House Bill 1074 would prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and vapor products to anyone under the age of 21
On Friday, Washington became the ninth state in the nation to pass Tobacco 21 legislation when Gov. Jay Inslee signed Rep. Paul Harris’ measure into law at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
House Bill 1074 would prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and vapor products to anyone under the age of 21.
“I have been working on limiting young people’s access to tobacco and vapor products for a number of years. It is great to finally see this bill signed into law because I truly believe it will make a difference in the health and vitality of our youth,” said Harris, R-Vancouver. “Prevention is the best medicine. Tobacco- and vapor-product use is a major problem, and Tobacco 21 will help limit accessibility and availability.”
Harris says when you look at the numbers, age at which people begin using tobacco or vapor products, the law makes sense.
“Taking tobacco or vapor products out of their hands between the ages of 18 to 21 is critical,” said Harris.
According to the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, nearly 95 percent of smokers started smoking before age 21. The average age that a daily smoker has a first cigarette is 15, and the average age a person starts daily smoking is 18.
“This is also going to save our state money in the long run,” said Harris. “A preventive measure like Tobacco 21 will decrease health care expenditures from tobacco-related illnesses.”
Harris was also grateful for the collaboration and leadership of Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman and Attorney General Bob Ferguson on the issue.
Washington joins Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah and Virginia, who have raised the tobacco age to 21.
The bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Information provided by Washington State House Republicans.