The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, joining more than 120 cities across the country, including New York and Boston, in the latest tactic to reduce smoking rates.
In California, Berkeley and parts of Santa Clara County have already moved to put tobacco out of the hands of teenagers. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, one of the authors of the measure, pointed to a major analysis from the Institute of Medicine last year that showed people who start smoking as teens are more likely to become hooked.
"By increasing the legal age to buy tobacco products from the age of 18 to the age of 21, we will save lives," he said just before the vote. The measure applies to many tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.
But there's a potential glitch. Tom Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets says California law pre-empts cities from raising the age.
"There needs to be some resolution on these questions, and the best person to do that is the California attorney general," Briant said in an interview.