A bill to prohibit the free distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products was approved by the House, despite objections that lawmakers should pay more attention to the 12 percent of Utahns who smoke.

Rep. Hugh Rush, D-Salt Lake, said he proposed the bill to keep the sample cigarettes distributed by the tobacco companies to promote their products from getting into the hands of teenagers and starting them on the highly addictive habit.The most vocal criticism of the bill came from Rep. Arlo James, D-Salt Lake, who said he is one of only three members of the House who smoke. He said the needs of he and the other Utahns who have been unable to stop smoking should be considered.

At the request of the Utah Retailers Association, the bill was amended so adults buying cigarettes could receive a free sample or other giveaway of tobacco products. It was also amended to include chewing tobacco and other other tobacco products, in addition to cigarettes.