MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Smokin’ — March 14, 2016

First, some good news. The filing period closed Friday evening at 5 p.m. for the June Primary. After the dust settled, I only have one candidate, a Democrat, who filed to oppose me. The major concern looming over the campaign did not materialize, even though papers were pulled (twice) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Ronald Reagan Day — February 6, 2016 february 6, 2016 john moorlach). Allow me to thank everyone who played a part in this fortuitous development. As campaign season is on, an invitation to an upcoming event is provided below.

Second, debate on tobacco usage continues. Let me get this straight. So you’re old enough to vote, to serve in the military, and to sign contracts. We know that the nation is uncomfortable with your drinking before the age of 21, and we’ve all accepted that. But, after allowing you to legally purchase cigarettes at age 18, can we really move the age back to 21?

We really don’t want you to smoke. But, is it our responsibility to dictate how you run your life? Did the Prohibition really work? Did people stop consuming alcoholic beverages? Or did they find alternatives?

As much as I would like to be in a smoke-free world, something tells me that I can not dictate that on individuals. It is a personal choice, based on a number of factors. Below, The Daily Californian, the student newspaper on the UC Berkeley campus, and KABC 790 AM Radio provide a couple of additional insights and reactions (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Tobacco Pile On — March 11, 2016 march 11, 2016 john moorlach).

California Legislature passes bill to raise legal smoking age to 21

BY ANNA DELL’AMICO | STAFF

On Thursday, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 7, which will raise the minimum legal smoking age from 18 to 21 statewide if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

SB 7 was introduced last July by state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, as part of a legislative package that comprises six bills, all aimed at reducing tobacco use. In addition to raising the smoking age, bills in the package would classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products and allow local governments to levy additional taxes on such products.

Joel Moskowitz, director of the Campus Center for Family and Community Health, noted the importance of reducing overall tobacco use by targeting efforts at adolescents. According to Moskowitz, 95 percent of smokers pick up the habit before turning 21.

“If they don’t start as adolescents, as young adults, they’re probably not going to take up smoking,” Moskowitz said.

The package of legislation was introduced last summer when Brown called an extraordinary session to address a funding gap in Medi-Cal and its long-term costs, according to Lindsey Freitas, senior director of tobacco control and lung health at the California Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing. Legislation aimed at preventing tobacco use, according to Freitas, would reduce tobacco-related illnesses and lower health care costs, which are often paid for by public Medi-Cal funds.

Brown is unable to comment on pending legislation, according to spokesperson Deborah Hoffman.

Several state senators were skeptical about the bill’s effectiveness. State Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said in an email that she was opposed to the bill on the grounds that people’s personal liberty should be protected regardless of the reported health consequences of tobacco use.

“I’m sure plenty of minors are smoking without concern about the current minimum age of 18,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, in an email, regarding compliance with the bill. “I don’t expect human nature to change, whether in or out of a university.”

Moskowitz, on the other hand, is confident that the bill would have a significant impact on smoking prevalence, despite some inevitable noncompliance. Moreover, the bill would require minimal implementation costs, according to Paul Ramey, spokesperson for the principal coauthor of the bill, Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg.

Freitas also noted the importance of local momentum in places such as UC Berkeley for generating support for legislation aimed at raising the smoking age. Rob Crane, president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, added that it has generally been easier to raise the minimum smoking age at local levels because city council members are less likely than state legislators to receive large donations from cigarette companies.

“I think across the board, we will see substantial improvements in people’s health, life expectancy (and) decreased medical care costs,” Moskowitz said.

Contact Anna Dell’Amico at adellamico and follow her on Twitter at @adellamico_dc.

OC Senator Says Ban on Under 21 Smoking is Wrong

The California State Assembly has passed anti-tobacco legislation

that includes a law that would make it illegal for anyone under the

age of 21 to smoke. Republican State Senator John Moorlach

says it’s a bad idea.

“I don’t smoke, my wife is allergic to cigarette smoke. But I don’t

know how you tell 20-year-olds 19-year-olds, 18-year-olds that

they’re not old enough to smoke, but they’re old enough to vote,

they’re old enough to volunteer in the military. So I just found that

aspect of the bill untenable.”

Moorlach represents South Orange County in the state senate.

“We have the freedom to do great things and we have the freedom

to do not so great things. So, I’m not going to tell you smoking is

the right thing to do but I’m not going to tell that you’re not

allowed to do that.”

The LA Times reports the legislation has been pushed by a coalition

called Save Lives California which includes the California Medical

Association and the American Lung Association. The coalition notes

that 95 percent of adult smokers start smoking before their 21st

birthday. The bill still requires approval by the senate and the

governor to become law.

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

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