MOORLACH UPDATE — Tobacco Pile On — March 11, 2016

Yesterday’s Floor Session was focused on the final bills that were heard and voted out of the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee, Special Session-Two, which oversaw the Managed Care Organization tax and many other "safety for all" bills.

Here is a recap of the tobacco-related bills and the votes:

SBX2-5 — Includes electronic cigarettes in the definition of tobacco products, that the age of individuals eligible to purchase tobacco products is 21, and imposes specified fees on retailers. 26-11

SBX2-7 — Changes the age of individuals eligible to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. 26-10

ABX2-7 — Expanded the prohibition of smoking in a place of employment to include an owner-operated business. 21-13

ABX2-9 — Prohibits the use of tobacco and nicotine products at any time in a school building. 30-8

ABX2-10 — Allows Boards of Supervisors to put a ballot measure on the ballot to increase tobacco taxes and can use the proceeds for any purpose. 23-14

ABX2-11 — Increases tobacco retailer, distributor and wholesaler fees. 24-15

ACRX2-1 — Adjourns the 2015-16 Second Extraordinary Sessions. 28-7

The San Francisco Chronicle covers the fun in the first piece below. It was also picked up by the Boston Globe (which was discussed in MOORLACH UPDATE — Leap Day Activities — February 29, 2016 february 29, 2016 john moorlach; also see MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — American Journalism Review — March 1, 2010 february 26, 2010 john moorlach).

I spoke against SBX2-5 (not all vaping is nicotine-based, so a blanket effort to tax it all is unjust and I offered alternatives) and ABX2-7 (home offices should not be so restricted as to negatively impose on personal property rights and I offered alternatives).

I opposed all of the bills, except ABX2-10, where I abstained. I believe in local control, and if a county wants to put an additional tax before a vote of their local residents, that should be their decision.

The Associated Press had their photographer on the Floor and it made it to several newspapers in the second piece below. And Capitol Public Radio also provides their perspective in the third piece below.

The filing period closes tonight at 5 p.m. and I have two potential opponents. With the campaign ready to begin, an invitation is provided at the bottom for your consideration.

Senate approves tobacco bills, increasing smoking age to 21

By Melody Gutierrez

California lawmakers sent Gov. Jerry Brown six bills Thursday to tighten restrictions on tobacco products in an effort to curb smoking in the state, including one that would raise the age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21.

Brown has not indicated publicly whether he plans to sign the bills, but a high-ranking administration official said last year that the governor would closely consider any legislation that reduces the health impacts of smoking.

Many Republicans said the bills reinforce the perception of California as a “nanny state” and criticized Democrats for circumventing the normal legislative process to push the measures forward. The bills were passed in a special session on health care.

The package includes a measure that would define e-cigarettes as tobacco products and require them to be regulated the same way. Other bills would allow counties and cities to ask for voter approval on tobacco taxes, increase the licensing fee on cigarettes and tobacco products and expand tobacco-free-workplace rules in public places.

Several of the measures stalled last year in an Assembly committee, but lawmakers revived the legislation by introducing them in the special session, which was adjourned Thursday after the bills passed.

The most contentious bill would make it a crime to sell tobacco to anyone under 21, with an exemption for active military personnel. The Senate approved that bill 26-10. The Assembly approved it last week in a 46-26 vote.

Under current law, minors caught smoking could face a $75 fine or community service, but under the legislation approved by lawmakers Thursday, there no longer would be a penalty for anyone under the age of 21 who is caught smoking. It would, however, be a misdemeanor to sell or give tobacco products to anyone under 21.

Brown has 12 days to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. If he does, the law would go into effect 90 days later.

“Opposition from Big Tobacco on this measure has been fierce,” said Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina (Los Angeles County). “Believe me, they have been working this. This only proves how important this is to them and what a big market California is to the tobacco industry.”

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine (San Diego County), said raising the age to 21 to buy tobacco products will incentivize smoking marijuana, particularly if a ballot initiative is approved that would legalize the recreational use of pot by adults.

“It may be my libertarian streak — but I’m not going to tell someone they shouldn’t do something that may even be harmful to them,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County).

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who authored the bill to regulate e-cigarettes, said his legislation would save billions in tax dollars by addressing the health problems that otherwise would be brought by a new generation of nicotine-addicted Californians. Leno’s bill passed the Senate 26-11.

The California chapters of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, a vapor products industry group, have been urging Brown to veto Leno’s bill.

“Treating vapor products like tobacco opens the door to unfair and unwarranted tobacco tax-related implications that will discourage smokers from switching to what science says is an effective and significant alternative to combustible tobacco,”Cynthia Cabrera, president the vapor group, said in a statement.

Supporters say studies don’t support vapor industry claims that their products help smokers kick their harmful habit.

“There is a strong concern that e-cigarettes represent a gateway to traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Palm Desert (Riverside County), who voted in support of Leno’s bill. “All the progress, my friends, that we have made since 1965 to educate people about the hazards of smoking may be for naught, since vaping has started a new generation of nicotine junkies.”

Melody Gutierrez is a mgutierrez Twitter: @MelodyGutierrez

Smoking, vaping age will rise to 21

Sacramento vote could launch national trend

Associated Press

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, called on lawmakers to reject a measure that would classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products subject to the same restrictions on who can purchase them and where they can be used during the Senate session Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. The bill, by Sen Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was one of a package of anti-smoking bills approved by the Senate, that now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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California Lawmakers Back Smoking Age Of 21

  • Ben Adler
  • A year-long battle over a package of six anti-tobacco bills now moves from the California Legislature to Gov. Jerry Brown. The Senate approved the measures Thursday on mostly party line votes after they won Assembly passage last week.

    Democratic Sen. Ed Hernandez’s bill would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

    “We can prevent countless California youth from becoming addicted to this deadly drug, saving billions of dollars in direct health care costs – and most importantly, saves lives,” said Hernandez.

    The measure would exempt active-duty military but not veterans. That drew criticism from Republican Sen. Joel Anderson, who argued vets with PTSD often smoke to cope with their stress.

    “While I get that we know that smoking’s not good for you, I don’t want to remove this option from them so that their only alternative is to smoke marijuana,” he said.

    A measure that would regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco drew opposition from Republican Sen. John Moorlach.

    “I think we need to differentiate. I think we ought to say, okay, if you’re buying a nicotine-based e-cigarette product, then that should be considered tobacco – but not everything else,” he said.

    Democratic Sen. Mark Leno responded that e-cigarettes are unregulated.

    “There is no one checking to see what’s in this product – nobody,“ he said. “And tests have shown that products that claim to be nicotine-free are in fact not.”

    The governor has not indicated how he’ll act on the bills. In addition to these measures, anti-tobacco advocates are gathering signatures for a potential November ballot initiative that would raise the cigarette tax by $2 a pack.

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