A bill in the Florida Senate that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and alternatives such as e-cigarettes to 21-years-old cleared its first legislative hurdle on Monday, passing the Senate Health Committee by a 9-1 vote.

The bill, S.B. 1618, was introduced earlier this month by Sen. David Simmons, R-Longwood. In addition to the age increase, it would also prohibit the sale of tobacco products via vending machines, as well as changes the penalty for selling tobacco to an underage person a noncriminal penalty as opposed to a criminal penalty. It also modifies the penalty for delivering tobacco to an underage person on behalf of a delivery service.

The bill is still scheduled to get hearings by the Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee as well as the Rules Committee before it would head to the floor for a full vote. If passed as currently written, the increase would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019.

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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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.