Several States move to increase smoking age to 21

Several States across the country have begun drafting legislation to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21, as Pew Charitable Trusts reported last week. Hawaii successfully passed legislation increasing the smoking age this past summer. California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington have also introduced measures to increase the smoking age, although none have passed thus far. Efforts to increase the smoking age are driven by new reports suggesting that increasing the smoking age to 21 would cut smoking by 12 percent, in addition to preventing 223,000 premature deaths. Researchers believe that the increase will prevent more people from starting to smoke, as “90 percent of adults who become daily smokers say they started before the age of 19.” Several smokers’ rights groups and retailers have warned against increasing the smoking age, suggesting that cigarette taxes comprise an important segment of State tax revenue.


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