Ravell Call, Deseret News
FILE - Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, is interviewed during the Utah Republican election night party at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah congressman and senator want to raise the legal age for smoking to 21 nationwide.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., introduced a bill Tuesday to set 21 as the legal age for the sale of tobacco products.

“Combating tobacco use by children has been a priority of mine since first taking office. I truly believe that it is an epidemic among our youth. I am confident that this bill will significantly reduce underage tobacco usage and ultimately save lives," Stewart said in a statement.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is among a bipartisan group in the Senate proposing to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the 21.

"Raising the federal smoking age to 21 is an important step toward keeping harmful tobacco products out of our children’s hands and protecting them from a lifetime of addiction,” he said in a statement.

34 comments on this story

Romney said it's time for the rest of the country to follow Utah's lead to raise the smoking age.

The Utah Legislature voted earlier this year to incrementally raise the age for tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, to 21. The law changes the age from 19 to 20 on July 1, 2020, and to 21 one year later.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and American Heart Association are among organizations supporting the federal legislation.