19:32 GMT17 February 2020
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    California has voted for a nonsmoking youth: state lawmakers have approved the raise of the smoking age to 21 years, making the nation’s most populous state the second, after Hawaii, to increase the age at which youth can purchase tobacco goods.

    On Thursday, the state Senate approved bills that raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, also regulating increasingly popular electronic cigarettes. The laws will come into effect when Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bills.

    The bills have been approved, despite heavy lobbying from tobacco companies and some Republicans, who argued that smoking is the personal decision of every individual.

    ​“These actions represent the strongest steps California has taken to fight tobacco use in nearly two decades,” Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, stated. “They will protect children from tobacco addiction, save lives and help make the next generation tobacco-free.”

    According to the American Cancer Society, the approved amendments are the most substantial anti-tobacco steps taken in California in the last 20 years.

    "With California having such a huge population, it's going to be very impactful nationwide," said Cathy Callaway, associate director of state and local campaigns for the society.

    ​Roughly a half a million US citizens die as a result of smoking-related diseases annually, according to statistics from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The government spends some $170 billion for healthcare each year.

    Some 135 cities across the US, including New York, have raised the smoking age to 21.


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