Amid the raucous controversy of this year’s politics, California found its own slice of trouble (and praise) when earlier this year it introduced some of the biggest changes to smoking regulations seen in this country so far. On May 4, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the restrictive regulations, which are set to take effect on June 9 and include raising the smoking age in the state from 18 to 21. For many small business owners and owner-operated establishments, the regulations go further.
The expanded regulations remove exemptions for specific workplaces that previously allowed for smoking in bars, hotel lobbies, banquet rooms and warehouse facilities. California’s changes will also now restrict those that own their own business and employ five or fewer people.
The state has banned smoking in most bars for years, but the new regulations will target smaller locations that have slipped through the ban. Due to this, John English (Automated Amusements, Los Angeles) does not believe the regulations will impact bar business much, but does see potential other effects.
“I don’t see that it will hit the bars a lot, but we do have four hookah lounges and their primary customers are 18-24, so those could lose business,” English said. “In my bars everyone is over 21, so the age change doesn’t matter.”
English also doesn’t think it will affect the cigarette vending market much either, mentioning that he hasn’t seen vending machines in bars for five or six years.
Vape pens and e-cigarettes containing nicotine will be seen as equal to traditional smoking, therefore falling under the same regulations. This position has drawn ire from the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, which believes vaping is a potential way for many to wean themselves off of addictive tobacco. Businesses found in violation of the changes after June 9 will be subject to $100 to $500 fines.