Florida Senate Approves Tobacco Purchasing Age Increase Bill

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The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vaping devices from 18 to 21-years-old, voting 33-6 on Tuesday afternoon.

The bill, S.B. 1618, has garnered national attention in recent weeks as the Sunshine State could soon join a group of roughly a dozen states to enact similar legislation. Notably, it has come under criticism for lumping e-cigarettes into with tobacco products, as well as for a clause that would have left the age to purchase cigars at 18. That exemption has been stripped out of the most current version of the bill, however. Additionally, language that prevents municipalities from restricting tobacco advertising has also been added, something that was included in the House’s version of the bill.

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The bill does include an exemption for people in the military reserve or on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, meaning they can still purchase tobacco products at 18-years-of-age provided they have valid identification. That provision has also garnered opposition from anti-smoking advocates.

It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. Just last week, Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah, who is also the Speaker of the House and former ceo of Oliva Cigar Co., told Capitol News Service that he thought the issue would not make it back to the floor this session, which ends on Friday.

If passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the governor, the increase would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019, as currently written.

Charlie Minato contributed to this story.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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.

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