A draft of a bill that would raise the legal smoking age from 19 to 21 received approval from the Health and Human Services Interim Committee today.
Sponsors of the bill say that raising the age limit would help prevent younger teenagers from starting smoking. The Senate sponsor, Republican Stuart Reid, says the change would also promote better public health.
“I hope people understand that our main aim is to reduced death and health crisis in the state and allow for a little more maturity for when they will start smoking, if they do at all,” Reid says.
Democratic Representative Tim Cosgrove was one of the committee members that voted against recommending the bill. He says he doesn’t like smoking, but thinks 18 year olds should be able to choose for themselves.
“But at some point and some time we also have to make those decisions, when are our kids an adult? And when can they make those choices? And this is one of those tough ones that puts it right on the spot,” Cosgrove says.
The recommendation by the interim committee is just the first step for the bill. To become law it will still need to get through the full legislative process when the regular session begins in January.