SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Assembly has voted to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

The 46-26 vote on Thursday advances the first piece of a package of tobacco-related legislation scheduled for discussion. It would make California among the first states to raise the smoking age.

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The Senate approved the bill last year but it stalled for months in the Assembly.

Proponents say the bill would save lives and prevent 18-year-olds from buying tobacco for their high-school-age friends.

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Critics say the bill infringes on individual freedoms and the government shouldn’t tell adults what to do.

The bill returns to the Senate, which must agree to changes made in the Assembly that allow members of the military to continue buying cigarettes if they’re at least 18.

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