Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smoking age hike eyed

DENVER—Two Western states with some of the nation’s lowest smoking rates are considering cracking down even more by raising the tobacco age to 21.
Utah and Colorado lawmakers both voted favourably on proposals yesterday to treat tobacco like alcohol and take it away from 18- to 20-year-olds—a move inspired by new research on how many smokers start the habit as teenagers.

“By raising the age limit, it puts them in a situation where they’re not going to pick it up until a much later age,” said Marla Brannum of Lehi, Utah, who testified in favour of the idea there.
In Colorado, the testimony was similar—that pushing the tobacco age could make it harder for teens to access tobacco and possibly reduce usage rates among adults.
“What I’m hoping to do is make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican who sponsored the measure.
Both proposals face several more votes. But they’re the furthest any states have gone to curb access to cigarettes by teens.
The Washington-based Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids advocates the higher smoking age and argues that it could make a serious dent in tobacco deaths down the road.
“We see this as sort of an added step to reducing smoking rates,” in addition to higher tobacco taxes and other curbs, said campaign vice-president Peter Fisher.

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