Washington might become first state to raise smoking age to 21

Washington might become first state to raise smoking age to 21

Under a measure proposed on Wednesday by Washington's top law enforcement official, the legislation seeks to raise legal age for smoking tobacco to 21 from 18.

The legal age to smoke has been set at 18 in most the US states while Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have minimum smoking ages of 19.

Only a handful of cities and counties, which include New York and Hawaii respectively have bumped the minimum age up to 21.

However, attorney general Bob Ferguson wants to make Washington the first state with a legal smoking age of 21.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, and Rep Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines introduced bills in the Senate and in the House to back Ferguson up.

If the legislation is enacted, it would also put the legal age to 21yrs for purchasing and possessing tobacco and nicotine-vapor products.

However, according to their predictions, it would take two or three years for the bill to pass with the involvement of any significant controversy.

Miloscia, Orwall and Ferguson expect opposition from the tobacco industry as well as from some colleagues in the legislature. Also, this measure would cost the state some $20 million a year in estimated tax revenue.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths annually, or one of every five deaths overall.

CDC said the US West has a 14.2% of smoking prevalence rate than other parts of the country. At Midwest, South and Northeast, the rate stands at 26%, 19.7% and 16.5% respectively.

Ferguson said that according to research, the young adult brain is highly susceptible to nicotine addiction. He said, "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".

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