BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 221
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 28, 2003

                                Jerome Horton, Chair
                    AB 221 (Koretz) - As Amended:  April 10, 2003
          SUBJECT  :  Tobacco products: minimum legal age: advertising,  
          display, and distribution limitations.

           SUMMARY  :  Raises the minimum legal age to smoke in California  
          from 18 to 21, and makes conforming changes to related statutory  
          provisions.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Prohibits persons from making various promotional or  
            advertising offers of smokeless tobacco products without  
            taking specified actions to ensure that the product is not  
            available to persons under 21 years of age, except for those  
            persons born before January 1, 1986.

          2)Extends the applicability of the provisions of the Stop  
            Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act to persons  
            under 21 years of age, except for those born before January 1,  

          3)Authorizes the Department of Health Services (DHS), until  
            January 1, 2007, to enlist the assistance of persons who are  
            15 and 16 years of age in random, onsite sting inspections at  
            retail sites.  On and after January 1, 2007, DHS may enlist  
            the assistance of persons under 21 years of age for these  

          4)Changes from 18 to 21 the age that retailers must verify for  
            tobacco sales. 

          5)Changes from 18 to 21, except for persons born before January  
            1, 1986, the age of persons prohibited from receiving any  
            tobacco products or paraphernalia from any person, firm or  

          6)Changes from 18 to 21 the age of persons prohibited from  
            purchasing tobacco products through the United States Postal  
            Service or through any other public or private postal or  
            package delivery service.

          7)Specifies that the provisions of this bill are not to be  


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            construed to prohibit a city or county from enacting laws with  
            respect to the legal age to purchase or possess any tobacco  
            product as long as they are at least as stringent as state  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Includes the legislative declaration that California must  
            fully comply with federal regulations, particularly the "Synar  
            Amendment," that restrict tobacco sales to minors and require  
            states to vigorously enforce their laws prohibiting the sale  
            and distribution of tobacco products to persons under 18 years  
            of age.

          2)Creates the STAKE Act, designed to reduce the availability of  
            tobacco products to minors through specified sales  
            restrictions and enforcement activities. 

          3)Authorizes DHS to assess civil penalties, ranging from $200 to  
            $6,000 depending on the number of offenses, against any  
            person, firm, or corporation that furnishes a tobacco product  
            to a minor.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown; contains crimes and infractions  
          mandated cost disclaimer.

           COMMENTS  :   The author intends that this bill reduce the  
          consumption of tobacco products by young people under the age of  
          21, and prevent teenagers from becoming addicted to tobacco  
          products. The author explains that youth smoking has been  
          identified as one of the most important health care problems,  
          and that beginning to smoke as an adolescent is the most  
          important cause of a lifetime smoking addiction.  

          The author reasons that increasing the minimum legal age  
          required to purchase tobacco products will have a significant  
          chilling effect on the number of young people who initiate  
          smoking. The median age for smoking initiation is 14, and daily  
          smoking begins around the age of 17.  True addiction occurs in  
          the late teen years, particularly once young people are out of  
          high school.  The Surgeon General reports that most smokers are  
          confirmed by the time they are 20. 

          This bill would enact the strictest youth tobacco access law in  
          the nation.  Three states-Alabama, Alaska and Utah-have raised  


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          the minimum legal age for smoking above that currently required  
          in California, to the age of 19.  The author notes that equating  
          age 18 with adulthood is a product of the military draft of the  
          Vietnam era, and bears little relation to the maturity level of  
          late adolescents.  The bill's sponsors-the Preventing Tobacco  
          Addiction Foundation and the California Medical  
          Association-point out that raising the drinking age to 21  
          reduced alcohol usage, not only diminishing drunk driving  
          deaths, but also youth usage and binge drinking.

          Opponents of the bill note that it is inconsistent with federal  
          law regarding tobacco sales to minors, citing federal statutes  
          giving states incentives to have and enforce laws prohibiting  
          the sale or distribution of tobacco to persons under 18.   
          Opponents also explain that this bill will harm retailers and  
          the state by shifting sales and associated tax revenues to  
          neighboring states.  Retailers opposed to the bill estimate that  
          it would reduce tobacco tax revenue by up to 3 percent, or $66  
          million annually.  Other individuals and young persons in  
          opposition to this measure state that it is in conflict with the  
          rights 18 year olds have, such as the right to vote, marry,  
          serve on a jury, enter contracts, and serve in the military.

           Previous Legislation:   AB 1453 (Koretz) of the 2001-2002  
          Session, as amended June 3, 2002,  proposed to raise the minimum  
          age to purchase or consume tobacco from 18 to 21 and make  
          corresponding changes in restrictions on tobacco promotions and  
          enforcement of tobacco sales bans.  The bill was amended later  
          to address a different subject, and subsequently died in the  


          American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
          American Lung Association
          California Medical Association (sponsor)
          California State PTA
          Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program
          Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation (sponsor)
          Various individuals



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          Assemblymember Steven Samuelian
          California Independent Grocers and Convenience Stores
          California Retailers Association
          California State Package Store and Tavern Owners Association
          Frontiers of Freedom Foundation
          National Tax Limitation Committee
          UST Public Affairs Inc
          Various individuals
          Young Americans for Freedom

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Alva Johnson / G. O. / (916) 319-2531