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.
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.