The Florida legislature will once again consider a statewide increase in the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, as Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, has introduced a new bill seeking the change.

S. 1288 would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21-years-old, with retailers who sell to a person under 21 would facing a fine of up to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second. An individual under 21 who attempts to buy tobacco products by misrepresenting his age would face mandatory community service, with 20 hours prescribed for a first violation and 40 hours for a second violation within one year if found guilty of the noncriminal violation.

Last year, Sen. Darryl Ervin Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, introduced a similar bill that sought to make the tobacco purchasing age 21-years-old. It died in the Senate’s Committee on Regulated Industries.

Currently five states have or will have a minimum purchasing age of 21-years-old for tobacco products: Hawaii, California, New Jersey, and Maine have already increased the age, while Oregon’s increase will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

The Florida Legislature’s 2018 session begins on Jan. 9, 2018.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.