Raise Legal Smoking Age from 18 to 21


Target: California Governor Jerry Brown

Goal: Raise the age at which people can buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.

California is considering raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. It will be the first state in the country to strike such a major blow to Big Tobacco if legislation introduced by State Senator Ed Hernandez is passed into law. This change would prevent many young people from becoming addicted and experiencing the negative health effects of smoking, and will cut into tobacco companies’ profits.

Despite the relative success of many anti-smoking campaigns in recent decades, smoking continues to harm and kill millions of people each year. A third of all cancer deaths in the United States are caused by tobacco cigarettes, and smoking-related illnesses continue to be responsible for a fifth of all American deaths.

These statistics, in combination with the fact that 90% of current smokers started smoking before the age of 18, illustrate just how dire legislation like Senator Hernandez’ is in the fight against smoking. If we can prevent people from becoming regular smokers in their youth, we can make a big impact on the health and welfare of current and future generations of young people.

Of course, the proposal will amount to nothing if it is ultimately met with a veto by California’s governor. Sign the petition below to urge Governor Jerry Brown to take a decisive step against smoking and sign this bill into law.


Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing you today regarding a piece of legislation that will hopefully be brought to your desk in the near future. Called Senate Bill 151 and introduced by Senator Ed Hernandez, this legislation would raise the minimum legal smoking age in the state from 18 to 21. This is a vital move for the public health of your state.

Tobacco companies like to hook consumers early on in their lives so that they can profit off of them for the longest possible amount of time. Indeed, nine out of ten current smokers report starting before the age of 18. While this helps Big Tobacco’s profit margins, it wreaks havoc on the health of the consumers who become addicted to cigarettes, in many cases leading directly to their deaths. It makes sense, then, to raise the legal age of smoking to 21. By keeping cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers, they will be less likely to become addicted, and their lifelong health will be infinitely better for it.

While proposals similar to this one have failed in New Jersey, Maryland, Utah, and Colorado, none of those states share California’s commitment to progressivism. For the sake of young Californians’ health, I urge you to sign Senate Bill 151 into law if and when it arrives on your desk.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Oxfordian Kissuth via Wikimedia Commons

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