California is set to become the second state in the US to raise the legal smoking age, after the state Senate approved a bill that would set the legal age at 21.
The bill now sits on Governor Jerry Brown's desk, and once he signs it, it will become law. Hawaii is the only other state to have raised the smoking age to 21, according to NPR. Numerous US cities have imposed stricter smoking rules, but states have largely been slower to enact such laws.
"This will save the medical system in the outgoing years millions of dollars," Democratic Assemblyman Jim Wood told KQED. "It will save thousands of lives."
Other supporters of the bill say that this law would help get cigarettes ever farther away from young kids. The bill's opponents and the tobacco industry say that once a person turns 18, they are an adult and adults are free to smoke if they so choose.
"I don't smoke, I don't encourage my children to," Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner told KQED. "But they're adults and it's our job to treat our citizens as adults, not to nanny them."
The California Assembly passed the bill last week. Aside from raising the smoking age, the law would regulate electronic cigarettes the same as tobacco, add additional smoke-free areas and allow counties in the state to raise taxes on cigarettes.
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