4) – The R Street Institute applauds the Washington state legislature for
its passage of HB
, which would raise the minimum legal age of tobacco and vapor
product sales to 21 years old. Rep. Paul Harris
[R-Vancouver] and Sen. Patty Kuderer [D-Bellevue] sponsored the measure
– known as Protecting
youth from tobacco products and vapor products by increasing the minimum legal
age of sale of tobacco and vapor products
. The bill passed
the legislature on March 27th and is now in the hands of Gov. Jay

to the Washington state 2014
Healthy Youth Survey
, 41 percent of 10th graders say it is
“sort of easy” to “very easy” to get combustible cigarettes.
The bill sponsors recognize this, stating in the bill that 95 percent of
smokers start by the age of 21. Raising the age for tobacco and vapor product
purchases to 21, therefore, is crucial to reducing youth access to tobacco
products. Indeed, the National Institute of Medicine predicted
that increasing the age of sale for tobacco products in the United States to 21
would significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start
smoking; reduce deaths from smoking; and immediately improve the health of
adolescents, young adults, young mothers and their children.

This bill
would reduce the number of eligible buyers in high school and, theoretically,
decrease student access to tobacco products. In addition, Washington would join California, Hawaii, Maine,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia and some 40 cities and counties in enacting “tobacco 21” laws. R Street
strongly encourages Gov. Inslee to sign this bill into law.

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