Two lawmakers will be making a push for Tennessee to join the Tobacco 21 movement this legislative session, as they are among several to introduce bills that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and tobacco alternatives from 18 to 21-years-old.
On Monday, Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, and Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, held a press conference to rally support for their bills, S.B. 1200 and H.B. 1454. They cited studies that say that smoking costs the state roughly $2.6 billion per year, and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products would reduce that number by reducing the likelihood of people starting to smoke.
The bill would come with its costs though, as a fiscal note puts an estimate at the loss of tax revenue from decreased sales at roughly $7 million per year for the state and $1 million for local governments.
The Senate bill is scheduled for a hearing today in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. The House bill has been assigned to the House Public Health Subcommittee where it is awaiting further action.
Six states, Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts have also passed and enacted legislation commonly known as Tobacco 21, which makes 21-years-old the minimum age to purchase tobacco. Virginia joined that club this month, with its increase scheduled to go into effect on July 1.