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.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.