January 28, 2019
Raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21
During the 2019 state legislative session, the WSMA is supporting House Bill 1074 (Rep. Harris, sponsor) and its companion, Senate Bill 5057 (Sen. Kuderer, sponsor), legislation that would raise the age of sale tobacco and vapor products in Washington state from 18 to 21 and help protect our youth from tobacco addiction.
Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, and most smokers—nine out of ten—start using tobacco before the age of 21.
House Bill 1074 and Senate Bill 5057, requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Department of Health, would raise the age of sale for tobacco products in Washington from 18 to 21. If enacted, Washington would become the seventh state in the nation (after California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon) to raise the legal smoking age to 21.
The WSMA has joined a large, bipartisan coalition in support of this legislation, which is in accordance with WSMA policy that supports the prevention of tobacco use among children and youth.
Why it matters
Raising the legal smoking age will protect young people from a lifetime of tobacco addiction. Young adults between the ages of 18 to 21 have brains that are not yet fully developed and are still highly susceptible to tobacco addiction. Cities and towns around the country that have increased the legal smoking age to 21 have seen significant reductions in their youth smoking rates, in some cases by as much as 50 percent.
Call to action
Support HB 1074 and SB 5057. The legislation would raise the age of sale tobacco and vapor products in Washington state from 18 to 21. It would not impact sales on military installations, nor would it penalize youth possession.
Katie Kolan, JD