A recently introduced bill in the Iowa Legislature is seeking to raise the minimum age to purchase products to 21-years-old, and has begun garnering the attention of legislators on both sides of the idea.
S.F. 607 was introduced recently by Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, and this week got its first hearings in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where a subcommittee recommended it be passed with amendments. The bill would make it illegal for a person to sell or give tobacco or tobacco alternative products to a person under 21-years-old, as well as for a person under 21 to possess or use such products. Language in the bill would also restrict tobacco product vending machines to places where a person must be at least 21-years-old to enter.
If passed and enacted into law, the increase would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, with two exceptions. Anyone at least 18-years-old as of that date would be grandfathered in and allowed to continue purchasing tobacco products. Schneider’s bill also contains an exemption to the increase for people who are active members of the military, leaving the minimum age to purchase tobacco products for them at 18-years-old, provided they are able to produce valid identification indicating their service. Those exemptions have garnered much of the criticism of the bill so far, as anti-tobacco groups feel that no one should be exempted from the increase. Both could be removed via an amendment before the bill gets to the Senate floor for a vote.
Iowa would join at least 10 other states to enact Tobacco 21 legislation, joining Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Utah, Illinois and Washington to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21-years-old. New York and Delaware have also passed similar legislation that is waiting on the signatures from its governors, while Maryland and several other states are getting close to passing their own bills.