Efforts to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 in Vermont came to a halt today. The Vermont House Human Service Committee emphatically rejected two different attempts to raise the minimum age to 21.
After brief discussions, the committee voted 11-0 against the measure in its basic form and the 10-1 against a law that would have raised the age to 21 with the exception of members of the military.
Dr. Harry Chen, the Vermont health commissioner, spoke against the proposed age increase, stating that other efforts to reduce smoking would be a better use of resources.
Vermont was one of five states with active legislation in the early 2014 session that could have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco.
A group of bipartisan representatives introduced H.616 in January after Rep. George Till, D-Chittenden, tried to add an amendment onto a separate bill that would have raised the minimum age to 21. Till dropped the amendment after House Democratic leadership promised to take up the age increase in its own piece of legislation, thus H.616 was born.
Earlier this month, discussion on the bill was halted, but Friday serves as an effective deadline for legislation to get out of committee, hence the Tuesday vote.
Last week, the Utah Senate voted down its state’s version of an age increase. Currently, Colorado, Hawaii and Maryland have similar pieces of legislation proposed.