CDA praises historic votes to strengthen tobacco laws

CDA applauds action by the state Assembly, which approved a package of six bills that will strengthen tobacco regulations, prevent cancer and save lives.

Supported by CDA and the Save Lives California coalition, the bills increase the legal smoking age in California from 18 to 21 and regulate e-cigarettes by treating them as tobacco products. Additionally, the bills expand tobacco-free workplaces and schools, allow local tobacco taxes and establish annual license fees.

The Assembly’s vote today is historic in nature,” said CDA President Ken Wallis, DDS. “We appreciate the leadership of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon who stood up to big tobacco companies — these tobacco regulations are long overdue.”

The bill to increase the minimum age for tobacco sales was authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), who is a CDA member dentist. Statistics show 95 percent of adult smokers start before the age of 21, and underage smokers consume 45 million packs of cigarettes a year in California.

“This is a significant step toward reducing tobacco use in California,” said Wallis. “CDA stands firmly behind efforts to curb tobacco use and prevent devastating diseases such as cancer, including oral cancer.”

Additionally, the Save Lives California coalition is seeking an initiative to save thousands of lives by raising California’s cigarette tax by $2 — to $2.87. California’s tax hasn’t been raised since 1998 and ranks in the bottom third of U.S. states.

The money raised would go toward funding health care for our state’s most vulnerable children and seniors, and also help offset the billions in health care spending that smoking imposes on California taxpayers annually.

Along with CDA, other members of the Save Lives California coalition include the California Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

For more information on the Save Lives California coalition, visit savelivesca.com.

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CDA and the Save Lives California coalition are encouraging dentists across the state to take action by signing a petition to make sure the ballot measure to increase the state’s tax on tobacco products by $2 per pack qualifies for the November ballot. CDA has delivered petition forms to all local components to help collect signatures. Every signature that CDA members can collect saves vital campaign resources that the coalition will need to counter the tobacco industry.

CDA and the Save Lives California coalition have launched the signature-gathering phase of a ballot measure campaign to increase the state's tax on tobacco products by $2 per pack. The coalition will have until April 26 to collect the required amount of signatures to qualify the "California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Act of 2016" for the November ballot and the campaign has a comprehensive program to ensure enough signatures are collected. CDA will be reaching out to components and grassroots leaders to provide members with an opportunity to sign the petitions to help qualify the measure.

Recent Field Poll results released in November showed strong support for taxing and regulating electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), a key component of the 2016 ballot measure submitted by the Save Lives California coalition, of which CDA is a member, that will prevent smoking. Almost three in four California voters (74 percent) favor taxing e-cigarettes and vaping products. A sizeable majority of Californians correctly views e-cigarettes as a danger to public health and 71 percent believe that e-cigarettes contribute to teens becoming addicted to tobacco.