Today, the Idaho House of Representatives voted 40-28 against increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18- to 21-years-old.
S.B. 1087 passed the Idaho Senate last month. The bill sought to change state law so it would mirror federal law, which increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 in late 2019. Some states have said that without consistent state language, the federal law is effectively unenforceable by local law enforcement. As such, many bills—including the one in Idaho—have been introduced to try to fix this inconsistency.
Somewhat confusingly, one of the reasons why people voted against the bill seems void, at least in practice.
The Associated Press said that “opponents said people who can join the military at 18 or buy a house should be able to buy smoking products.” It even quoted one Democratic lawmaker who made the argument that if you are old enough to risk your life for the country, then you should be able to smoke.
Regardless of whether S.B. 1087 passed, it remains illegal for anyone under the age of 21—including if they are serving in the military—to purchase tobacco products in Idaho or anywhere else in the United States.
If passed, individuals under the age of 21 found in possession of tobacco products would have been fined $17.50, be required to attend a tobacco awareness program, and subject to community service. There were also steeper fines for minors found guilty of distributing tobacco products or lying to officers about their age.
The bill would have also prevented local governments from introducing more stringent tobacco regulations and taxes.