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

Victims, law enforcement speak about King County Courthouse conditions

An entrance to the courthouse was closed after an assault.

In this September 2019 photo, George Kirkish, owner and founder of Palouse Winery on Vashon-Maury Island, pours a glass of wine for Lori Coots during tasting room hours. (Kevin Opsahl/Sound Publishing)
King County Council approves controversial winery, brewery ordinance

After five years, the county has updated regulations surrounding alcohol production and tasting.

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is among supporters of statewide “just cause” legislation to protect tenants in Washington. However, some landlords say removing the ability to quickly remove tenants limits their ability to get rid of problem renters. (Courtesy image)
Tenant advocates prepare for another push in Olympia

Following wins in Burien and Federal Way, just cause evictions are on the 2020 Legislative agenda.

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

You’ve been hacked! Data breaches in Washington on the rise

But fewer people had personal information compromised from cyberattacks in 2019 compared to 2018.

Demonstrators from La Resistencia protest Amazon’s involvement with ICE. Photo courtesy of La Resistencia
How will the U.S. respond to climate refugees?

Business as usual has been harder borders, are there other ways to address climate migration?

Safe drug consumption sites have been recommended by the King County Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Pictured is a safe consumption site in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
What’s been happening with safe injection sites?

There hasn’t been much coverage this year compared to the last couple years.

Most Read