The WA state legislature is considering joining two other states, Hawaii and California, by raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 years.   

On Tuesday morning, the House Health Care Committee heard a bill that would raise the tobacco purchase age to 21 years (HB 1054).  The testimony was strong and included: 

 

Many other groups signed in support including WSALPHO. Most impressive was testimony given by the Brigadier General who addressed the argument regarding soldiers who are eligible to go to war at 18 years of age but not able to purchase cigarettes.  The General emphasized the toll smoking has on the physical and emotional strength of a soldier and expressed his support of a policy that would strengthen his troops for military operations. 

Many of the health care experts provided data that demonstrated the impact that nicotine products have on the health care system: treating smoking related illness is 8% of health care spending, equating to approximately $70 billion a year. For each pack of cigarettes purchased (approximately $10/pack), $7 is estimated as the cost of the associated health care expense.

The youth also provided convincing testimony. They claimed that many of their peers are confused about nicotine and believe that electronic cigarettes (vape products) are healthy products.  One of them stated, “If you know an 18 years old, buying cigarettes is as a easy buying  a bag of chips.”  

The Washington State Retail Association spoke in opposition to the bill claiming that loss of tobacco sales would result in significant other general sales.  

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Brynn Brady of Ceiba Consulting is an experienced lobbyist and facilitator with more than 14 years experience building relationships with state and local elected officials, city and county governments and the business and non-profit communities. She represents a broad range of clients with interests in public health, health care, transportation, salmon recovery, growth management, the environment and financial institutions.