Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bill to raise minimum age for tobacco products passes Senate committee


Senate Committee approves McCortney legislation to raise minimum age on tobacco

The Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee voted Monday in favor of legislation increasing the age to buy or use tobacco products from 18 to 21.  Senator Greg McCortney, chair of the committee, is the author of Senate Bill 1423.

In December, President Donald Trump signed the Tobacco-Free Youth Act into law, prohibiting the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.  McCortney, R-Ada, said SB 1423 brings Oklahoma into line with that federal change.

“Even though the federal law has changed, we still needed to follow through in the Legislature, because enforcement takes place at the state and local level,” McCortney said.  “This change will help avoid confusion or ambiguity and ensure clarity for the public, businesses, state agencies and law enforcement.”

Currently, state law sets a minimum age of 18 for tobacco sales and use.  Under SB 1423, the minimum age would be raised to 21 for purchasing or using tobacco products, and it would be illegal to sell or give tobacco products to anyone younger than 21.

McCortney said the change would also help improve Oklahoma’s health outcomes.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 90 percent of adult cigarette smokers report they first tried smoking before the age of 18.

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease disability and death in this country.  Raising the age limit for tobacco products has long been promoted as a way of reducing tobacco use, so this change will help us with our goal to improve public health in our state,” McCortney said.

SB 1423 will next be considered by the full Senate.

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