Lawmakers continue fight to raise legal smoking age to 21

Smoking age

ST. GEORGE Utah could become the second state in the nation to raise the smoking age to 21, as Utah lawmakers review a record number of proposed bills over the next five weeks.

For the third straight year, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, is proposing raising the legal age to buy and use tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 19 to 21. Critics have stalled the bill in years past by arguing anyone over the age of 18 should be allowed the freedom to smoke.

The approach is gaining traction across the country after a 2015 study from the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., estimated such laws would discourage smoking at an age when many people first get addicted. As many as 95 percent of adult smokers report starting to smoke before they turn 21 years old.

That study concluded that raising the minimum age to 21 would help delay when young adults and adolescents start using tobacco. The study predicts that if all states immediately raised the minimum age to 21, there would be a 12 percent decrease in tobacco use among today’s teenagers by the time they become adults.

If H.B. 130 – Age Limit for Tobacco and Related Products should pass in Utah, stores caught selling cigarettes, e-cigarettes or other tobacco products to anyone under 21 would be fined between $300 and $1,000 and, upon receipt of a third violation, the licensee’s license to sell tobacco at that location could be suspended for 30 days. After a fourth violation, the licensee’s license to sell tobacco at that location would be revoked.

Under the proposed bill, anyone who provided any cigar, cigarette, e-cigarette or tobacco in any form to someone under 21 is guilty of a class C misdemeanor on the first offense, a class B misdemeanor on the second offense and a class A misdemeanor on subsequent offenses.

smoking ageAdditionally, any individual under 21 who buys or attempts to buy, accepts or has tobacco in any form in their possession is guilty of a class C misdemeanor and subject to a minimum fine or penalty of $60 and may be subject to participation in a court-approved tobacco education program, which may include a participation fee.

On Jan. 1, Hawaii became the first state to raise the smoking age to 21 while also incorporating e-cigarettes into its smoke-free laws, meaning such products will be banned in areas where smoking and traditional tobacco use is already prohibited.

“We are proud to once again be at the forefront of the nation in tobacco prevention and control,” Virginia Pressler, the state’s director of health, said in a statement.

Although Hawaii is the first to implement such a law on a statewide level, similar measures have been introduced in at least eight other states and the District of Columbia. Federal lawmakers have also proposed a nationwide smoking age of 21.

However, it has mostly been cities and municipalities so far that have been pushing the issue to raise age restrictions on tobacco. More than 100 U.S. cities have raised the smoking age to 21. New York City raised the legal age for selling tobacco products and e-cigs to 21 in August 2014, Boston’s new law will go into effect this month, and Cleveland, Ohio, voted last month in favor of raising the minimum age for cigarettes sales from 18 to 21.

Dr. Huy Nguyen, interim executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said smoking is still the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

Smoking continues to cause more deaths “than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle accidents and firearm-related incidents combined,’’ Nguyen said in a statement. “Reducing the number of young people who ever start smoking is the single most important thing we can (do) to promote long-term health.’’

When the Utah Senate defeated the measure in 2014, one of the reasons senators said they couldn’t support the bill was due to the loss of tobacco tax revenue to the state.

Enactment of the bill may reduce tax revenue to the General Fund by about $3,160,700 in Fiscal Year 2016 and $3,042,200 in 2017 due to decreased tobacco and related product sales, and reduce sales tax revenue to local governments by about $202,100 in Fiscal Year 2016 and $195,300 in 2017.

Through provisions of this bill, approximately 5,300 individuals could forgo paying tax on tobacco and related products for a tax savings of about $635 per person per year or about $3.24 million to $3.36 million total.

According to the Institute of Medicine:

The public health impact of raising the MLA for tobacco products depends on the degree to which local and state governments change their policies. These decisions will depend on each state’s or locality’s balance between personal interests and the privacy of young adults to make their own choices versus society’s legitimate concerns about protecting public health.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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20 Comments

  • digger February 4, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    DO IT

    • .... February 6, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Wow 2 words ! You must be exhausted. better take a nap and use your I Love Bundy blankie so you dont get cold

  • Rainbow Dash February 4, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Accountable, Mesaman, Mrsmmith or Mr. Mexican, you all drink the Mormon Cult and Tea bag Kool-Aid so maybe you can explain this to me. Why is it that you are all ok with sending 17 and 18 year old kids off to die in some skirmish over oil prices in Iraq but get you magic underwear in bunch when people the same age want to be able to have a cigarette?

    • mesaman February 4, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Your assumptions equal your infantile hangups. Perhaps in another 20 or 30 years you will remedy these cathexes, maybe even outgrow them. You probably didn’t know what kind of culture you were entering when you immigrated here, did you? I wish you luck.

      • .... February 6, 2016 at 2:48 pm

        Maybe in 20 or 30 years you will grow up !

    • NotSoFast February 4, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Speaking about increasing tax revenues,
      How about a law outlawing eating pinto beans? The EPA says passing gas (methane gas) which is the product of eating those nasty beans, is not only bad for the environment and contributes a great deal to global warming, it fowls the air and causes death.
      You over the age of 21? According to the latest study by the Al Gore Bean Study Groups findings, if adults are willing to pay a 10% bean consumption tax, soon the consumption of beans will drop drastically and everyone’s heath insurance cost will decrease and all the cows in the pasture won’t feel discriminated against.

      • sagemoon February 5, 2016 at 8:26 am

        That’s a bill I can support!

  • 42214 February 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    No cigs, no military, no vote, no marriage

  • .... February 4, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    LOL ! Them idiots think that raising the legal age to 21 is going to make the 18 yr old smokers stop until their 21..LOL ha ha ha ha LOL ! ha ha ha ha

    • digger February 5, 2016 at 6:50 am

      You,I see cannot comprehend what anyone is thinking except you dot dot, so crawl back in your hole????LOL HA HA HA HA. You feel me? No, I didn’t think so lol lol ha ha ha ha ha??
      Go ahead reply n give it your best. So we can all see.

      • .... February 7, 2016 at 4:13 am

        Maybe you should get out of your mothers basement and get some air once in awhile

  • digger February 5, 2016 at 6:55 am

    After careful examination of the video footage of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum we found that the movements of Mr. Finicum’s body, his arms and hands are consistent with the reaction when one is shot. He exits his vehicle with both hands/arms in the air and keeps them in that position for awhile, then we see a quick drop and his right hand goes to his lower left side, his hip or abdomen area, as if grabbing where a bullet struck. His body also is turning from right to left and we see his knees buckle and one point and his right leg moves back, he then places his right hand in the middle of his torso, another very possible reaction to a gunshot wound.

    Why would a man who exits his vehicle obeying the commands of the State Troopers/Feds, with both of them at close range and their weapons pointed directly at him, then decide to reach for a weapon?

    Then Mr. Finicum drops his hands and then raises them and then drops then again and raises them. Mr. Finicum was having great difficulty keeping his balance in the deep snow. That could also explain why his arms droped, to keep himself from falling over. Receiving gunshot wounds will also affect ones arms when they are raised up and cause them to drop down.

    The natural instinctive reaction is to grab the area where one has been shot.

    Very important to NOTE, that as soon as Mr. Finicum had exited the vehicle, with his arms in the air, the Troopers/Feds to the right and the one to the left, quickly move in, in a combat tactical approach to takeout a target.

    Clearly the Troopers/Feds were not attempting to get Mr. Finicum to comply, the Troopers/Feds were moving at a very rapid pace, closing in to neutralize him, aka kill him. This all took place in the span of 6 seconds.

    At no time did Mr. Finicum produce a weapon and according to applicable law, the use of deadly force is justified only when there is a genuine threat of death or serious bodily injury. No such threat was present when the State Troopers/Feds shot Mr. Finicum, multiple times.

    There is something very wrong here and a full impartial investigation needs to be conducted to determine what took place. All other video, Bodycam and Dashcam w/audio needs to be reviewed and an impartial examination of Mr. Finicum’s body needs to be done, to establish how many times he was shot and the exact location of those gunshot wounds. #JusticeforLaVoy

    • 42214 February 5, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      I don’t care if he was murdered, executed, hands up, surrendering, whatever. I’m just glad they shot him dead, period. Should have done it sooner.

      • .... February 6, 2016 at 2:40 pm

        Yeah it was a great shot wasn’t it lol ! he was dead before he hit the ground !

    • .... February 5, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Aww look everybody little diggy wiggy thinks this is an article about his sweetheart Lavoy..

  • sagemoon February 5, 2016 at 8:28 am

    When is the government going to draw the line at trying to control people’s decisions regarding their health, life, and recreation? As long as Republicans and Democrats keep getting elected, the control on the people will persist.

  • Ron February 5, 2016 at 10:09 am

    I cannot get over the fact that many of you are so willing to send an 18-19 year old to die in some God forsaken sandbox, but you will deny him/her the right to smoke at home, in his/her own country. They can vote, but cannot smoke. Can get married, but not smoke. Can drive at 16, but not smoke at 18-19.
    You may argue that you are stopping him/her from becoming addicted to nicotine. Really?!?!?!? Do you realize how many 18-19 year olds are addicted to other things?? Porn, alcohol, marijuana, digital devices, etc., etc. So if an 18-19 year old is willing to lay down his/her life for you in that screwed up sandbox they call the middle east (for now)….you will deny him/her the right to choose to smoke tobacco? Maybe you are part of the problem in our society then. They are not little kiddies, get over it. Sheesh….

    • mesaman February 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Nice try with that hackneyed argument about sending our youngsters to war. Your second argument makes much more sense until you fall apart with the original cliche. Be honest, you’re having a tough time quitting so that would explain your defense mechanism. I have a suggestion; have a diagnosis of lung cancer, go through surgery and six months of chemo, then if you still can’t quit buy a plot at Tonaquint cemetery and hope you can pay for it while you can still work. In your case, the end is nigh.

      • .... February 5, 2016 at 8:51 pm

        I was watching the news and there is an APB on you . it seems the city of Mesa wants their village idiot back

      • .... February 6, 2016 at 2:50 pm

        It must be really difficult being you and not having any friends

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