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California Smoking Age Increase – What It Means

Posted on: May 20th, 2016

Age 21 Now Required to Buy Tobacco in California

Early this month, California became the second state in the country to raise the legal smoking age. Now, along with Hawaii, the new California smoking age legislations will require residents to be 21 years of age to purchase tobacco, instead of 18. This landmark decision has far reaching implications, especially for retailers and proprietors of stores that sell tobacco.

What Exactly Has Changed?

The new legislation is quite far reaching, and deals with many products beyond just cigarettes. Under the new rules, people under the age of 21 are banned from legally purchasing:

Surprisingly included in the banned item list are also e-cigarettes and vaporizers, options marketed as healthier alternatives to tobacco consumption. Although the research is not definitive, opponents to the rise in e-cigarette use find it to be an equally effective way to develop a nicotine addiction and will eventually become a "gateway" to tobacco use.

An equally interesting aspect of the new California smoking age law includes a stipulation that military personnel will be exempt from the new rules and will still be able to purchase tobacco products at the age of 18. Opponents to the initial language of the law, including veteran's organizations and several Republican lawmakers, argued that men and women willing to fight for our country should be able to make the decision to use tobacco.

Acceptable Forms of ID

All retailers that sell tobacco products will still require patrons to show them a valid, acceptable form of ID. These include any federal, state, county or municipal government issued document, like a driver’s license or a state ID card. For those looking to take advantage of the military exception, a valid Armed Forces ID card must be presented showing the persons name, date of birth, description, and photo.

For proprietors of shops and stores that sell tobacco and tobacco products, these new laws mean they will more than likely see a rise in attempts to pass off fake IDs or otherwise commit ID fraud. Staying current on the size, shape and design of current, valid California ID cards (or ID for their respective state or county) is critical to stopping fraud in its tracks.