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California's Legal Age To Buy Tobacco Is Now 21

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California’s Legal Age To Buy Tobacco Is Now 21
California’s Legal Age To Buy Tobacco Is Now 21
It's now illegal in California to sell tobacco products and vaping devices to people under 21.

Starting Thursday, you have to be 21 to buy tobacco products in California.

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The new age restriction also applies to e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

The rules are part of a package of anti-smoking bills that state lawmakers approved this year.

Federal surveys show 90 percent of people who smoke tobacco started before age 21.

Debra Kelley, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in San Diego and Imperial counties, said teenagers will now have a tougher time buying cigarettes.

“It’s really going to be harder for those younger teens to start, and it’s going to be harder for those younger teens to maintain their habit," Kelley said. "And so that pipeline of new, addicted customers that the tobacco industry counts on is going to be squeezed.”

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed the higher age restriction into law in early May, so retailers haven’t had much time to prepare for the change. The new law requires all tobacco retailers to have signs that spell out the new age restriction.

Retailers are also prohibited from having self-service displays of cigarettes or vaping products.

Enforcement will be the responsibility of the food and drug branch of the California Department of Public Health and local police.