WA Attorney General Renews Push For Raising Smoking Age to 21
With a State House bill going to committee and being debated Tuesday in Olympia, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has renewed his push to have the smoking age raised to 21. It's a renewal of the failed effort last year in the legislature, and a move that has some saying he's overstepping his bounds.
While critics acknowledge the dangers and health issues of tobacco use, many say it's not the Attorney General's job to play Health Secretary. Ferguson will be testifying on House Bill 1054 which will be heard Tuesday before the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee.
Ferguson listed a number of statistics from the Federal Government and other sources about the dangers of teen smoking, and how those who smoke under the age of 19 have a far greater chance of smoking as adults. Ferguson believes, as do some experts, if a teen reaches 21 and doesn't take up smoking or tobacco use, they're far less likely to as an adult.
He also wants the age lift to apply to vaping, or e-cigs, and smokeless tobacco as well. It's well documented the dangers tobacco poses to people, but critics, including some Eastern Washington legislators, say it's NOT the government's job to play 'health nanny' as they call it. They don't deny the dangers of tobacco use, but say it's up to parents and other adults to educate and influence teens to not smoke--not the government.
Some critics are saying Ferguson has overstepped his bounds, as his job should only be to handle and oversee legal matters that affect the state and the people--not trying to get people to stop smoking.
A number of legislators, health groups, parents groups and others support the idea; while some small business and convenience store groups and the vaping industry oppose the idea.