State of Tobacco Control > California | American Lung Association
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in California. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in California calls for the following three actions to be taken by our elected officials:
1. Restrict youth access to tobacco by limiting locations and availability of products;
2. Pass a comprehensive, statewide smokefree outdoor air policy; and
3. Support local-level policies that restrict tobacco use in multiunit housing.

This past year California made significant progress towards its tobacco prevention goals. For the first time in nearly 20 years, California's tobacco tax is increasing. Voters in 2016 approved the $2.00 per pack tax increase via ballot initiative sponsored by the American Lung Association in California. Crucially, the tax will apply to electronic cigarettes as well as traditional tobacco products. The estimated annual $100-$130 million increase in tobacco control program funding will ensure that California has the resources necessary to remain at the forefront of the fight against Big Tobacco.

2016 was also a landmark year for tobacco control legislation in California. First, a comprehensive package of special session bills were signed into law. By requiring all schools to be smokefree and raising the minimum sales age of tobacco to 21, California is ensuring that fewer youth will start smoking. The growing threat of electronic cigarettes was addressed by legislation to restrict their use and sale. Workers are now less likely to have to breathe secondhand smoke while on the job due to a bill which closed loopholes in the state's smokefree workplace laws. And finally, all tobacco retailers are now subject to a licensing fee that fully covers the administration of our state's licensing program.

In addition, during the regular 2016 legislative session, bills were signed into law that bring Medi-Cal's cessation coverage into compliance with current guidelines and that prohibit tobacco at youth sporting events. And in one last major win for public health in 2016, the CalPERS Investment voted to strengthen its prohibition towards investing in tobacco companies, ensuring our state's public employee pensioners are not hanging their retirement on an industry that hooks children to a deadly product.

Many of our local communities are also making important strides toward a future free of tobacco-related disease. In 2016, communities such as Saratoga and Belvedere passed rigorous policies restricting smoking outdoors, bringing the total number of local comprehensive smokefree outdoor air policies in California close to 100. California communities also continue to break new ground in the latest frontiers of tobacco control policy. This year, Santa Clara County passed a first-of-its-kind policy that includes menthol in its ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Through these efforts to pass strong local and statewide laws, we will continue to prevent kids from ever picking up their first cigarette, motivate current smokers to quit, and fight for better treatments and cures for lung diseases that result from, or are exacerbated by, tobacco use.
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