Legislation to Raise WA Tobacco Age to 21 Passes Committee, Headed to House Vote
The bills pushed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson have cleared the first big hurdle towards raising the tobacco (and e-cig) age to 21.
Tuesday in Olympia, House Bill 1458, passed by a 12-3 margin in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. The bill will then head to the full House for approval, and the Senate is expected to act similarly. The Senate companion bill is SB 5494.
Once a bill makes it out of committee, it has a far better chance of being approved by the legislature, especially if it has strong support from both the GOP and Democrats.
According to AG Ferguson, both bills continue to be met with strong bi-partisan support. According to a release from the Office of Attorney General Tuesday:
"The proposed law, Senate Bill 5494 and House Bill 1458 sponsored by Sen. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way) and Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), respectively, would raise Washington’s age to legally use and possess tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21."
Some opposition has been raised against the measures, namely those who say the economic impact to retailers could be significant due to losing a group of people who could no longer legally buy tobacco products.
Others say while the health risks of tobacco are significant, it's not the state's job to regulate whether adults should or should not use them. They say it is a personal responsibility issue.
We've heard dozens of comments from listeners, especially through social media, saying if 18-21-year-olds are adult enough to fight in the military and make other sacrifices for our country, they should be afforded the same rights in this area as adults over 21. Many of these people echo the idea that once you are over 18, it is a personal responsibility issue of choice, regardless of health risks.