Last January in 2016 Hawaii and California both declared a form of legislation to raise the minimum age requirement to purchase tobacco from 18-19 to 21 years old. Following suit another 24 States are also indicating that they will do the same.
During the current 2017 legislative season there have been 5 States (out of 24 introducing bills) that have already defeated their counterparts efforts. The majorities of the 24 States have not yet reached a vote, or are under review by various committees.
In the great Northwest Oregon introduced Senate Bill 754 that would raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 and last Thursday that bill passed. The bill is now heading to the House, where, according to the CAA (Cigar Association of America) there is a significant support for it.
While that bill was passing in Oregon out in the great Northeast the Mountain State of Vermont had State senators voting 15-13 to increase the minimum age to purchase from 18 to 21 as well. This bill was tabled the following day and now heads to committee on Finance.
Groups that advocate cigar smoking like the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers have been fighting these bills and have had some success in doing so. Last year in Utah a bill was defeated to raise the minimum age to 21 and in 2015 similar bills were rejected in Maryland and Colorado. However some feel that it is only a matter of time before more States adopt a minimum age hike.
“We’ve seen this trend coming for a number of years,” said Matt Dogali, senior director of state legislative affairs for the IPCPR. “For [the premium cigar industry], the loss of the 18 to 21 demographic isn’t going to harm retailers, but it’s a matter of principle. It’s bad public policy.”
“Bills have died in Oregon in the past,” said Dogali, “but now, they have two Republican senators [Jackie Winters and Bill Hansell] who support it.”
Those groups who support the minimum age increase, such as the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and its Tobacco 21 coalition state that early exposure to tobacco permanently changes neuroreceptors that drive long-term nicotine addictions.
Those who support the age hikes, such as the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and its Tobacco 21 coalition, argue that early exposure to tobacco permanently alters neuroreceptors that fuel long-term nicotine addictions. But those who oppose these advocacy groups believe the anti-youth smoking rhetoric to be insincere, arguing that it is not about youth smoking, it’s about being anti-smoking of all kinds, even for adults.
The States where active legislation is pursuing to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old includes Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.
It looks like you may have to be 21 years old to purchase alcohol and tobacco in the United States. What do you think about this?
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