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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

In this file photo, Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20, 2020, in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

File photo
Study shows Washingtonians exceeded ‘heavy drinking’ threshold in 2020

The survey suggests Washingtonians drank more than 17 alcoholic beverages a week on average.

Mercer Island School District first-graders returned to in-person classes on Jan. 19, 2021. Here, Northwood Elementary School students head into the building. Photo courtesy of the Mercer Island School District
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Malden, after a wildfire burned down 80% of the town’s buildings in Eastern Washington. Courtesy photo
DNR commissioner seeks $125 million to fight wildfires

In Washington state last September, some 600,000 acres burned within 72 hours.

Washington State Supreme Court Justices (back row, L-R) Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary I. Yu, G. Helen Whitener, (front row, L-R) Susan Owens, Charles W. Johnson, Steven C. Gonzalez, Barbara A. Madsen and Debra L. Stephens.
Justices strike down Washington state drug possession law

Police must stop arresting people for simple possession.

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

Most Read