Bob Ferguson, Attorney General for the State of Washington plans to announce a new bill later today whereby the legal age to purchase cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products would be raised to 21 from 18.
Although, the age to buy cigarettes and tobacco products has been raised to 19 in Alabama, Alaska, Utah, New Jersey, and New York, if his bill gets passed, Washington State this will be the first state in the country to increase the age for smoking throughout the entire state to 21.
Ferguson’s decision follows statistics released by the Federal government that suggests that the level of smoking is on the decline for young Americans. For ages 18 to 24, numbers dropped to 17.3% in 2012 compared to 24.4% in 2005, this according to information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Included in the bill will be a warning that 18 to 21 is a critical age range that accounts for over 25% of people who use tobacco, whether experimental or daily use. The bill suggests that by increasing the age to purchase cigarettes and tobacco products to 21 has the ability to reduce smoking by young Americans by 50% over the next seven years.
Representative Tina Orwall, Democratic from Des Moines, is the primary sponsor of the bill, which was first read this morning and then passed on to the House Health and Wellness Committee for review.
As stated by Peter Lavallee, spokesman for the State of Washington, the drive behind the bill is for the health and well-being of young people in the state. He added that within jurisdictions where the age to purchase products has been raised significant impact has been seen on smoking rates among young people.
The public has been educated for a long time about the risks associated with cigarette smoking and tobacco use. Sadly, over 480,000 deaths occur annually in the United States alone relating to this practice. Washington State also adopted to legalize recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older in 2012.