Washington, D.C. could very well be the next major city to increase the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.
Legislation has already been introduced by Councilman Kenyan McDuffie that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products by amending several pieces of city code that prescribe the minimum age. The bill, which was introduced on November 5, is known as the Prohibition Against Selling Tobacco Products to Individuals Under 21 Amendment Act of 2013, and was referred to the City Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
“Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 will decrease access to cigarettes, and, more importantly, may decrease the rate of smoking in young adults,” McDuffie said in a press release. “We have an obligation to stay on the leading edge of smoking prevention strategies here in the District. By restricting tobacco sales to young people, we can prevent many of our youth from acquiring a terrible, deadly addiction. Research shows that delaying access to tobacco products is an effective means of long-term smoking prevention.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Councilman Tommy Wells and introduced by six other members of the Council in addition to McDuffie, giving the bill support from eight of the 13 Councilmembers. Similar to legislation recently signed into law in New York City, the District of Columbia Official Code seeks to punish retailers or other individuals who furnish tobacco products to those underage. One notable difference is that it does not include electronic cigarettes.
Utah is also considering a proposal that would increase the minimum age to buy tobacco statewide from 19 to 21. The proposal will could hit the floor of the Legislature as early as January, and would focus on both retailers and consumers, making it illegal for anyone under 21 to possess tobacco or tobacco paraphernalia.
McDuffie has also introduced an amendment to the city’s Smoking Restriction Act of 1979 that would prohibit smoking a tobacco product in a vehicle where children under the age of 12 are present.