A group of legislators in Washington state has introduced a bill to the legislature that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase or possess tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21.
House Bill 1458, along with a companion bill in the senate, SB 5494, was introduced on Tuesday as part of a movement led by Attorney General Bob Ferguson to reduce access to tobacco products in the Evergreen State. After its introduction, the bill was referred to the house’s committee on Health Care & Wellness.
The proposal also makes possession of tobacco products or e-cigarettes by those under 21-years-old a class 3 civil infraction, punishable by a fine, community service or both. The court could also require a person between 18 to 21 to participate in a cessation program as part of the punishment.
Washington becomes the first state to introduce a bill to increase the minimum age to purchase or possess tobacco products to 21 this year, though New Jersey still has active legislation in its state assembly, having been passed by the state senate last year.
Smoking by adults is already fairly rare in Washington, as a 2013 Gallup poll ranked the state tied for 44th in terms of the percentage of the population identifying as being smokers, with 17% identifying as smokers.
Washington is home to just under seven million residents.