The Washington State House of Representative has passed new sweeping legislation that could raise the legal age of smoking from 18 to 21. The bill, which has been dubbed HB 1074, was also supported by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson as well as the Washington Department of Health. Lawmakers in the House passed the bill 66-30. Proponents of the legislation believe that the law will be crucial in saving lives. It’s expected to significantly reduce smoking among people between the ages of 15 and 17 by nearly 25%.
There’s also a belief that smoking is a habit that starts during the teenage years and the addiction grows after that. Some analysts note that people who don’t smoke before their 21st birthday are more likely to shun the vice later in life. But some think that the law could be devastating to teenagers who are already addicted to smoking or nicotine vaping. The law will effectively make it illegal for these teens to access cigarettes and other nicotine-related products. This could have negative implications on their health too.
Opponents of the bill argue that an 18-year-old kid already in college should be considered an adult and capable of making his or her own decisions. The fact that you can do so many adult related staff after hitting 18 years old is a clear indication that you are mature enough to decide whether smoking is good for you or not. Washington State has also set 21 as the legal age for buying or drinking alcohol. But many analysts say that even with these laws, there are still a lot of younger locals who are able to easily get access to alcoholic drinks. They don’t believe that things will be any different with smoking.
If someone wants to smoke, it won’t matter whether they are 18 or 21. They will still find a way to get the cigarette or the nicotine products that they need. What is now left is to make sure that the bill passes the Senate before it is enacted into law. Proponents of the legislation are confident that the Washington Senate will pass it too.
The smoking problem in the US has been declining over the last few years. Although the CDC still reports that 14% of all Americans are smokers, over the last few years there has been a sharp drop in prevalence. Many analysts, however, don’t believe that this decline has been attributed to legislation. There have been years of public awareness on the dangers of smoking which have played a key role in all this. The Washington State law is also backed by concrete research from the CDC. Some experts think that the law will be influential in limiting smokers but there are still a lot of lingering questions on how the state intends to implement it. Enforcement of such legislation will not be easy. We are also not aware of any penalties for people who are caught smoking under the age of 21.