California Raises Smoking and Vaping Ages to 21

Choice between cigarette and e-cigarette

During a special healthcare session earlier this month, Governor Brown signed into law significant tobacco regulations, raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 and classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The laws go into effect on June 9.

With the signing of this new law, California becomes the second state in the country, after Hawaii, to raise the legal smoking age in an effort to block young people’s access to tobacco.

A 2015 Institute of Medicine report concluded that if all states raised the smoking age to 21, there would be a 12 percent drop in teen and young adult smokers. Also, according to a March 2015 Institute of Medicine study, raising the smoking age to 21 would result in about 223,000 fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer.

The Governor also signed a bill classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products, banning e-cigarette use in venues where traditional cigarettes are prohibited, such as schools, restaurants, hospitals, and workplaces. Just as with other tobacco products, you must be 21 years old to buy e-cigarettes.

In addition to these two laws, five related bills that will expand smoking restrictions in the workplace and in schools were signed. One measure that would have allowed cities and counties to impose local taxes on tobacco products was vetoed.

For more information about the new laws, visit the Governor’s website at www.gov.ca.gov.

Special Enrollment for Covered California

Vert-269x220pxCovered California, the State’s health insurance marketplace, is reminding Californians who experience a life-changing event that they may be eligible to enroll in a health insurance plan outside of the Open Enrollment period.

During the Special Enrollment Period, Californians may be eligible to enroll in a health plan through Covered California if they experience a qualifying life event such as:

  • Losing health coverage through their job.
  • Income changes so dramatic that he or she becomes eligible or ineligible for help paying for his or her insurance.
  • Turning 26 years old (a California resident is no longer eligible to stay on their parents’ plan).
  • Moving from another state to California.
  • Getting married or having a child.

After a qualifying life event, you have 60 days to enroll in a health plan through Covered California. Call (800) 300-1506 or click here for more information on Special Enrollment.

WORLD’S ONLY PENSION FUND FOR PROFESSIONAL BOXERS IS LOOKING FOR CLAIMANTS

BoxerThe California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is on a quest to find former professional boxers who may be eligible to receive their fair share of a pension fund exceeding $5 million.

Read the news release here.

New Publication from the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology

EyelashExtension_coverThe State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (Board), which licenses and regulates barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, estheticians, electrologists, apprentices, and the establishments in which they work in California, has released a new publicationEyelash Extensions Safety Tips.

The brochure details who should be applying eyelash extensions, what to look for at the salon you choose, when a consumer should not get eyelash extensions, and tips for consumers before and after getting eyelash extensions.

Consumer publications from the Board are available online at www.barbercosmo.ca.gov/consumers/index.shtml.
The Board can be reached at (800) 952-5210.

The Fight Against Extreme Weight Cutting

The practice of extreme weight cutting in combat sports—when mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters and boxers drastically lose weight before a fight in order to compete in a certain weight class—has become a chief concern of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which regulates combat sports statewide.

Weight cutting—often achieved through drastic dehydration—has landed fighters in the hospital with criical injuries and, in the most extreme cases, has been fatal. Through an educational campaign that includes informational flyers and posters detailing the dangers of severe weight cutting, CSAC has become a leading voice nationally in combating the practice.

macro of a doctor's office scale

The Commission recently held a summit in Southern California in an effort to find solutions to extreme weight cutting.

In the most recent issue of Consumer Connection, the quarterly magazine published by the Department of Consumer Affairs, CSAC Executive Officer Andy Foster said: “Dehydration and weight cutting is the most serious issue facing mixed martial arts from a health and regulatory perspective.”

Read the full story on extreme weight cutting, and catch up on the latest news on other consumer-related subjects, in the spring issue of Consumer Connection, which can be viewed and downloaded on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.

Psychologist Convicted of Indecent Exposure

Psychology_Logo_BannerSACRAMENTO – The California Board of Psychology recently filed an accusation to revoke the license of Thomas F. Machos of Oceanside after he was convicted of multiple counts of indecent exposure.

Read the entire news release here

Small Claims Court: DCA Guidebook Explains How to Navigate This Valuable Consumer Resource

One of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ most popular titles—The Small Claims Court: A Guide to Its Practical Use—has been recently updated and is available now for download!

Some people think going to court is difficult or frightening, but it doesn’t need to be. DCA’s handbook, written by DCA’s Legal Affairs Division, is designed to help anyone who is suing or being sued in small claims court, or deciding whether or not to file a case. Although your local small claims court clerk or small claims adviser should be your first go-to for questionsshutterstock_74941255, our guide is a handy backup. It includes:

  • A glossary of legal terms.
  • A checklist for plaintiffs and defendants.
  • An explanation of what small claims court is and how to decide if it’s your best option.
  • Factors to consider before filing.
  • Resources for locating the party you’re filing against.
  • Guidance on what to do if you’re the defendant.

It also contains advice on how to make the most of your day in court.
Get your copy here: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/small_claims.pdf.

National Drug Take-Back is Saturday, April 30

DEA event has resulted in safe collection and destruction of 2,762 tons of unused prescription drugs

Get ready to raid your medicine chests: Saturday, April 30, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back day from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at a location near you!

Medicines that languish in hGot-Drugs-Graphic-Genericome storage are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. This event, held annually by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, provides a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for their abuse. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Flushing prescription drugs down the toilet or throwing them away are both potential safety and health hazards and can pollute the environment.

Collection sites in every local community can be found by going to www.dea.gov.

Latest Consumer Connection Magazine Highlights New Medical Marijuana Bureau

spring 2016

The first issue of 2016 is out, and it’s packed with great information.

Last year, the passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act added another new regulatory entity—the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation—under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Although it doesn’t officially open its doors until 2018, the DCA team is already hard at work getting its structure in place.  This issue outlines what the new laws do and how DCA will implement them, and also addresses some common questions and answers for consumers, businesses and potential licensees.

Also last year, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) took the lead in addressing the issue of youth pankration (mixed martial arts fighting). Now, CSAC is leading the way again, this time addressing the risky—and sometimes deadly—practice of extreme weight cutting. Read about this along with recommendations on how to manage prescription costs; how to protect your hearing; what to do if your car is a lemon; new laws that impact Californians; crowdfunding and more.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

13 Years Later: Drop in Flame Retardants in California Breast Milk

shutterstock_295587713Flame retardant chemicals and breast milk may not seem related, but they are in the Golden State. What’s the connection? A series of bills created to keep Californians healthy.

In 2003, Assembly Bill 302 was signed by Governor Gray Davis. The bill prohibited the  manufacturing, processing, or distribution of a product in California that contained more than one-tenth of one percent of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or pentaBDE (PBDE) beginning January 1, 2008. The legislation was created in response to a 2002 study conducted by California State scientists that found the level of PBDEs in Bay Area women’s breast milk was extremely high.

PBDEs were used as fire retardants primarily in electronic equipment, textiles, and furniture. According to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), PBDE health concerns include the potential to disrupt hormonal functions and neurodevelopment, which may affect children’s learning abilities and behavior.

In addition to the ban, in 2014, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1019, which gave consumers the right to know whether furniture they’re buying contains harmful chemicals. Consumers can check furniture labels for this information; see the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation’s (BEARHFTI’s) website for more information on the bill and label requirements.

The good news? The ban was effective. A follow-up study done earlier this year by DTSC found that there has been a 40 percent drop in PBDE levels in the breast milk of Bay Area women.

However, there is some bad news as well. A 2014 study from the Environmental Working Group and Duke University found that the fire retardant chemicals used in place of the banned PBDEs—some of which are carcinogenic—are building up in the bodies of mothers and their children. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is considering a petition from scientists and advocates asking to ban these chemicals.

For more information on the recent DTSC PBDE findings, visit www.dtsc.ca.gov/scp/
pbdesdecrease.cfm
. To find out more about BEARHFTI, visit their website at http://www.bearhfti.ca.gov.