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The Washington state House of Representatives voted 66-30 in favor of raising the minimum age required to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21.
The bill, HB 1074, was supported by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Washington Department of Health. Lawmakers passed the bill on Feb. 20.
Mike Webb, Ferguson’s chief of staff, said over time this bill will save tens of thousands of lives. He said a CDC report suggested this legislation could reduce smoking rates among 15- to 17-year-olds by 25 percent.
“If you’re not smoking by the time you are 21, there is a 95 percent chance you never will,” Webb said.
Cameron Loepp, a freshman construction management major at WSU, is 19 years old and uses a nicotine vaporizer on a daily basis. He said he vapes from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed.
“If this legislation is passed I will be devastated,” he said.
Loepp said he thinks students that are in college and living on their own should be able to make decisions for themselves.
“If someone wants to smoke, they will do it,” he said.
Loepp said even though alcohol is illegal for those under 21, there are still people who drink underage. He said if this bill is passed he will likely resort to having someone over 21 buy nicotine products for him.
Webb said he and his staff are confident HB 1074 will pass in the Senate.
“We believe that our legislation to increase the smoking age from 18 to 21 will save more lives than any of the hundreds of bills the legislature will consider this session,” Webb said.