The House Rep. co-sponsored the tobacco 21 legislation during the 2021 session, making the state compliant with federal law. The measure says that retail store owners must obtain a licence from the state to sell nicotine products, and that they must place a signs at checkout counters clearly stating that selling the products to persons below 21 years of age is illegal.
The data on tobacco age limits
Meanwhile, a recent study looking into the effects of California’s 2016 law raising the legal age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21 (T21), reported positive trends. The compiled data indicated that the T21 law had positive public health effects on 7th, 9th, and 11th grade students from across California. The findings were summarized on News-Medical as follows:
- “Reduced prevalence of lifetime smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette use, and past month smokeless tobacco use in the overall student population.
- Increases in prevalence of past month e-cigarette use.
- Reductions in lifetime and past-30-day use of all tobacco and nicotine products among Latinx youth.
- Differential, but positive public health effects for other racial and ethnic groups.”
An earlier study by UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, had reported mixed results. Researchers Melanie Dove, Susan Stewart and Elisa Tong, analysed such patterns before and after the law was implemented. Subsequently, they compared California to other states which don’t have a T21 policy in place, examining data from the 2012-2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The study showed that the new T21 law did not have a great impact. “Before California’s T21 policy, there was an 11% annual decrease in the odds of ever smoking among 18–20 year-olds in California and a 6% decrease in the referent states. After the policy, these trends did not change significantly.”
“For daily smoking, there was an 8% annual decrease before the policy and a 26% annual decrease after the policy among 18–20 year-olds in California; D-I-D estimates were 0.80 (95% CI: 0.57, 1.14) using referent states as the comparison and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.41, 0.95) using 21–23 year-olds in California as the comparison,” reported the study Abstract.