Wikimedia Commons CFCF photo

Wikimedia Commons CFCF photo

Proposed Law Would Raise Age Limit For Tobacco Sales

State lawmakers cite health concerns over tobacco and vape products.

By Madeline Coats, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

A proposed law requested by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Department of Health would raise the minimum legal age of sales for tobacco and vapor products in Washington from 18 to 21.

The bill, HB 1074, was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 11 representatives and introduced by House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver).

HB 1074 would prohibit the purchase of tobacco and vapor products for any person under age 21. The current age limit is set at 18 years old.

The prefiled bill intends to decrease the number of eligible buyers in high school in order to reduce students’ access to tobacco products. The text of the bill states that jurisdictions across the country have been increasing the age of sale to 21, and at least six states and 350 cities and counties have raised the legal sales age.

John Smith from Driftwood Vapor in Lacey explains that the proposed bill is a good idea, but won’t accomplish much. When Smith was underage, he said it was easy to purchase tobacco products.

“It will probably reduce underage usage,” Smith said. “It won’t be eliminated, though.” Smith also believes that adolescents and young adults will find a way to access tobacco regardless of age restrictions.

The Institute of Medicine, a non-profit organization that offers advice on issues related to health, agrees with the public health implications of raising the age of legal access to such products. According to the institute, among adult daily smokers, about 90 percent report their first use of cigarettes before age 19.

The institute argues that increasing the minimum legal age would likely prevent or delay the use of tobacco products by adolescents and young adults. The committee predicts that increasing the age of purchase will reduce tobacco use initiation among teenagers and improve the health of Americans.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse addresses the heightened risk of addiction to nicotine for adolescents and the negative effects on the development of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. The center’s scientific studies of the brain have shown that humans are highly vulnerable to addictive substances until age 25.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use causes approximately 6 million deaths per year. The CDC reports that in Washington state, over $2.8 billion in health care costs can be directly attributed to the use of tobacco.

More in News & Comment

Boeing says decision on new airplane will come this year

With the 737 Max crisis far from over, there was speculation that a 797 decision might be delayed.

State high court upholds $1,000 fines on ‘faithless electors’

They signed pledges to back their party’s nominee, Clinton, in 2016, but then voted for Colin Powell.

Pow! Bam! Inslee delivers a one-two punch of executive power

Governor shifted $175M to culverts and vetoed a sentence he said threatened funding for transit.

Self-driving cars: Heaven or hell?

Depending on factors, traffic and environmental impacts could become better or worse.

King County’s $5 million derelict boat problem

When a boat sinks, it costs a lot to bring it up, with millions being spent since 2003 on removals.

Ashley Hiruko/illustration
Susan’s quest for ‘justice’ and the civil legal system dilemma

While citizens have the right to an attorney in criminal cases, they’re not afforded the same rights in civil litigation.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Most Read