SACRAMENTO (CN) - Vaping - smoking electronic cigarettes - would be banned in California in places where cigarettes are banned, under a bill introduced in the state Senate this week.
A second smoking bill, also introduced this week, would raise the legal age to smoke tobacco from 18 to 21.
State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced Senate Bill 140 on Monday, which would prohibit use of e-cigarettes or vapes in places where cigarettes are banned.
"Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in a cloud of other toxic chemicals, and their use should be restricted equally under state law in order to protect public health," Leno said in a statement.
The bill is co-sponsored by a coalition of health organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association, Leno said.
More than 100 California counties and cities have prohibited vaping in specified areas. Leon said SB 140 would put e-cigarettes under the same restrictions as in the 1994 Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement law.
Controversy over vapes is due in part to the fact that the technology is so new no long-term studies have been done on it. Critics recently have targeted the fast-growing industry for pushing flavored smoke, which they say is a way to hook children.
The California Department of Public Health this week released a study stating that that vapes are no safer than traditional cigarettes, and contain at least 10 chemicals known to cause cancer. Young adults in California are three times more likely to use e-cigarettes than those 30 and older, the report states.
"There is a lot of misinformation about e-cigarettes. That is why, as the state's health officer, I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages," California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ron Chapman said.
On Thursday, state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, introduced Senate Bill 151 Thursday, which, if passed, would make California the first state with a minimum smoking age of 21.
"We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while Big Tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them," Hernandez said in a statement.
Recent history shows that anti-tobacco bills are tough to pass in California, as big tobacco companies donate large amounts of cash to California's political leaders.
The Sacramento Bee reported that in 2014 Altria and R.J. Reynolds donated $196,000 to California Democrats. Democrats owned the majority in the 2014 state House that failed to pass bills raising taxes on cigarettes or banning smoking in state parks, and they hold majority in the current Legislature as well.
Both bills will go to committees in the spring.Follow @@NickCahill_5
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