Young smokers in Washington state may have trouble getting a pack of cigarettes in the near future. State lawmakers are considering raising the minimum age to buy tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21.
The bill was introduced at the request of Attorney General Bob Ferguson who testified in favor of it Monday.
“No bill in Olympia this session will save more lives than increasing the legal smoking age to 21,” Ferguson said. “In fact, based on current smoking trends 8,500 kids alive in Washington state today will be saved from a premature death if the legislature enacts tobacco 21.”
This is the third year lawmakers have considered legislation to raise the minimum legal smoking age.
In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to set the legal age at 21. Four other states including Oregon have followed.
The penalty for selling or giving tobacco or vapor products to a minor is unchanged in the proposal. It would remain a gross misdemeanor under Washington state law.