Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, is seeking to raise the smoking age to 21 from 18. If the measure he proposed on Wednesday is successful, Washington State could become the only state in the U.S. to raise its legal age for smoking tobacco.
If the legislation is enacted, then the legal age for purchasing and possessing tobacco, as well as nicotine-vapor products is going to go up from 18 to 21. The goal of this bill is to lower healthcare expenses as well as restricting access to teens.
Statistics from 2013 reveal that around 90% of smokers began the harmful habit in their teens. Ferguson used this data to back up his proposal and said that smoking kills a bit over 8,000 Washington residents every year and costs the state $2.8 billion in healthcare costs. On the other hand, if the legislation is enacted, then the state would lose an estimated $20 million every year in tax revenue.
Washington State Attorney General said that research shows that the adult brain is still developing between the ages of 18 and 21 and it is highly susceptible to nicotine and the addiction to it.
We must do more to protect our youth from tobacco’s grip, and this bill is an important step toward keeping nicotine out of the hands of kids and young adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the leading cause of preventable death in the United States is cigarette smoking. Around 480,000 people die every year, which means that one out of every five death in the U.S. is caused by cigarette smoking.
The vast majority of U.S. states set the legal smoking age at 18 (some even at 19). There are some cities in the U.S. such as New York City and some counties, Hawaii County, that have already went ahead and raised the legal smoking age to 21.
Democratic Representative Tina Orwall and Republican Senator Mark Miloscia have joined GA Ferguson in his attempt to raise the smoking age to 21. They stated that they do expect some opposition from the tobacco industry, but Altria Group INC that owns R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris USA did not respond to requests for comment.
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