Young people looking to buy tobacco products can circumvent age requirements relatively easily by going online, Dickinson said in a Monday morning press conference. He cited statistics finding that between six and 14 percent of U.S. tobacco sales occur through the web.
"There's supposed to be age verification and notice. It's not working," Dickinson said, so "the next logical step is to simply ban sales through the Internet."
Since those age-checking requirements have proven ineffective, Dickinson said, his bill targets the shipping process. Companies would be barred from sending cigarettes to individuals with California addresses, although Dickinson noted shipments to retailers could continue.
"It doesn't interfere with the flow of commerce otherwise," Dickinson said. "I don't think it has an impact on the conduct of business by legitimate companies for legitimate purposes."
The legislation also addresses the burgeoning market for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, which deliver a burst of nicotine in water vapor. While e-cigarettes proponents call them a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes that contain tar and other harmful ingredients, Dickinson warned that the health effects of e-cigarettes remain untested.
"Electronic cigarettes are especially of concern because they are currently largely unregulated," Dickinson said, adding that "the idea that an e-cigarette is simply benign is far from proven."
A bill to restrict e-cigarette use, introduced last year by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, made it out of the Senate but stalled in the Assembly.
PHOTO: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento in the Assembly chambers in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua