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California Assembly Approves Tobacco-free College Campuses

SACRAMENTO, Calif. ― The California Assembly on Monday approved banning tobacco use on all California State University and community college campuses, building on a package of restrictions already awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty’s proposal for tobacco-free campuses received just enough votes to clear the lower legislative chamber, passing 41-23.

AB1594 now heads to the state Senate. It would prohibit chewing, dipping, smoking or vaping natural or synthetic tobacco products on 136 California campuses. About 2.5 million students attend those schools that have a total of about 100,000 staff and faculty members.

“This measure will promote a safe and healthy environment for students to learn and make campuses a more education-friendly environment and tobacco-smoke-free,” said McCarty, D-Sacramento.

The proposal would allow school trustees and board members to decide whether to fine campus smokers up to $100. The money would go to support education programs at the campus where the violation occurred.

Supporters said the bill would help decrease the harmful effects of nicotine and secondhand smoke. Others questioned whether it is necessary, given that campus officials can already ban tobacco.

Assemblyman Donald Wagner, R-Irvine, opposed the bill and rebutted McCarty’s argument that unifying all campus policies would be beneficial.

“We do in fact have local governments that are charged with making these decisions,” Wagner said. “That is not a hodgepodge; that is democracy naturally.”

The Legislature sent six different tobacco restrictions to Brown on Friday, including a plan to raise the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

The other proposals would regulate electronic cigarettes, allow local tobacco taxes, establish annual tobacco license fees, encourage all charter schools to be tobacco free and expand existing tobacco-free workplaces to include small businesses, break rooms and hotel lobbies.

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