Effective today, the legal age to buy tobacco products-- including e-cigarettes -- in California is now 21 years old.
For 144 years the legal age to buy tobacco in California was 18. But a package of anti-tobacco bills moved through the legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown signed five of them last month.
The intent of the higher age is to get tobacco products out of the hands of teenagers. Many 18-year-olds are in high school and can share their lawfully-purchased cigarettes with those too young to buy.
Moving the tobacco age to 21 moves legal purchasers out of the orbit of teens. An Institute of Medicine analysis last year concluded that raising the tobacco age to 21 nationwide would result in a 12 percent drop in the number of teen and young adult smokers.
An estimated 240,000 18- to 20-year-olds use tobacco products.