By , Jean Lee
Published May 02, 2016
California Democrats are trying again this year to pass a tax increase on cigarette sales, one of several bills that attempt to curb tobacco use.
The bill if passed would increase the tax from 87 cents to $2.87 a pack, after roughly 17 years without an increase.
State Democrats have also proposed bills to limit the public use of chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes and to increase the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 that if passed would make California the only state to increase the minimum age.
Tobacco interest groups such as the Cigar Association of America told FoxNews.com on Wednesday that they will be looking into different tactics to fight the tax but no decisions have been made yet.
The bill to increase the smoking age passed unanimously in the Senate Health Committee with bipartisan support and is now headed to the chamber’s appropriations committee.
However, the legislation to increase the cigarette tax, now being considered by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, will likely face a more difficult path toward passage.
The bill needs to pass with a two-thirds majority, which means it would need support from Republicans, who have previously opposed such measures.
And similar efforts have failed 17 straight times in California, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Those efforts have been defeated largely by the strong opposition and lobbying efforts from the tobacco industry.
In 2012, for example, a ballot initiative to increase the tax by $1 was narrowly defeated after the tobacco interests spent $47.7 million in opposition, the newspaper also reported.
The other measures this year would ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places where tobacco smoking is already prohibited, prohibit the use of chewing tobacco in professional baseball stadiums and try to reduce litter by banning single-use filters, which are on the vast majority of cigarettes.
Supporters of the age-increase legislation say it will stop minors from smoking and perhaps even keep them from starting.
The Cigar Association of America told FoxNews.com that 18 year olds can vote and serve in the military so they also should be allowed to legally smoke cigarettes at that age. However, nobody testified directly against the legislation, according to The Times.
Stefan Didak, a spokesman for the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association in California, told the newspaper that the bill “attacks a safer alternative to smoking -- one that is helping some smokers quit.”