SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would incrementally raise Utah's legal smoking age to 21 has cleared another legislative hurdle.
The Utah House of Representatives on Friday voted 47-19 to approve HB324, which would increase the legal age to buy tobacco products to 20 in 2020 and to 21 in 2021.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, cited research that shows 95 percent of smokers start using tobacco products before age 21, when they are likely to become "entrapped" in addiction, he said.
"I think we all know the danger of tobacco," Eliason said. "I think we know that developing brains are unfairly trapped in this industry."1 comment on this story
Eliason also pointed out it's "a little bit ironic" Utah allows 19-year-olds to buy tobacco but not alcohol until they're 21 — even though both alcohol and tobacco can be "detrimental" to health.
Eliason also noted in states that have raised the age requirement on tobacco, there's been a 50 percent decline in high school student smoking rates, minimizing students who are "doomed to a life of using these products that can trap them and destroy their health," he said.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.