A bill in the Utah State Senate that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 19 to 21 passed its first test on Thursday as the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved it 4-1, which sends it to the Senate floor for a full vote.
SB0012 was filed by Sen. Stuart Reid (D-Ogden) on January 2, and Reid told committee members that the change would “reduce the chances of kids becoming addicted to tobacco products…and that the state could save millions of dollars in long-term health costs,” according to Fox13Now.com.
Supporters also cited a recent poll by Dan Jones and Associates which indicated that 67 percent of Utah residents favor an increase to the age to purchase tobacco to 21.
Should the bill pass the legislature, it would make Utah the first state in the country to make 21 the legal age to purchase tobacco, and would further cement their reputation as the most unfriendly state to tobacco users. The law would increase the penalties for an underage person purchasing or consuming tobacco and maintain the current penalties for retailers selling to those under age.
Additonally, Utah is home to the a cigar tax of 86 percent of the wholesale price, the largest uncapped tax in the country.