With the closing of the regular session of the Washington state legislature on March 8, a number of bills seeking to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco effectively died due to lack of action.
The most promising of the bunch, H.B. 1054, was passed by the House of Representative on March 7 by a vote of 63-35 and then sent to the Senate the following day, though with the clock ticking it only received a first reading and referral to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. By law, once the session closed, it was returned to the House.
Washington had been considered one of the more promising states to join five other states in making the minimum age to purchase tobacco products 21-years-old, as it was the third consecutive year that the proposal had been introduced. The bills came at the request of Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, and John Wiesman, secretary of the state’s health department, both of who remain ardent supporters of the increase.
Washigton joins Florida as states to recently see tobacco purchasing age increase bills defeated. West Virginia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Idaho, Alabama and Mississippi have also had bills fail this session.
Five states have moved to make the minimum age 21-years-old: California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon have all raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old. Legislation seeking a similar increase remains active in Minnesota and Illinois.