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Politics & Government

Consensus Reached On Smoking Age Increase Legislation

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House and Senate lawmakers have reached consensus on what the final version of the bill to increase the smoking age will look like.

That’s even as some health advocates push for further changes.

The likely final version of the bill will increase the legal age to smoke and vape from 18 to 21, in compliance with federal law. It also doubles the fines for retailers who sell to those underage – something retailer lobbyists support.

But it keeps in place the existing fines for youths who use or possess tobacco products, which could be up to $500. Health advocates – like former State Health Commissioner Richard Feldman – say the better approach is to limit those fines.

“Rather, they should be offered treatment and education on the dangers of tobacco addiction,” Feldman says.

Feldman says he’s also disappointed the General Assembly isn’t banning flavored vaping products, which he says entice children to use them.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.