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LOS ANGELES - Members of the California Medical Association (CMA) have voted to support raising the state's smoking age from 18 to 21. The association, which represents 35,000 state physicians, voted to adopt the policy yesterday during its annual session in Anaheim, Calif.
The resolution directs the association's lobbyists to support any legislation that would raise the legal age to buy, possess or receive tobacco products and paraphernalia, according to the Los Angeles Times.
No such legislation is pending in the state. If a state lawmaker should propose such a law, the CMA has six full-time lobbyists that could be devoted to build coalitions in support of it, the report said.
All 50 states set a minimum age of at least 18 to buy tobacco products following a 1992 directive from Congress. In three other states - Alabama, Alaska and Utah - the legal age is 19.
The American Lung Association does not support raising the legal smoking age, instead saying efforts would be better spent enforcing current laws. The ALA estimates about 90 percent of all smokers pick up the habit before the age of 21. More than 430,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases.