States Consider Tobacco Age Increases

cigaretteUtah and Colorado join the list of states seeking to up the smoking age to 21.

Utah and Colorado, both of which have some of the nation’s lowest smoking rates, are considering proposals that would raise the tobacco age to 21 in their states, ABC News reported.

Both states voted in favor of the proposals thus far but the proposals in both states face several more votes before they would become law.

Altria Group Inc., which owns the country’s largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, said in a statement Friday that it supports 18 as the minimum age to purchase tobacco, which Congress approved in 2009. The company noted states should wait until the Food and Drug Administration finishes a pending study of about raising the purchase age higher than 18. “While we recognize that these are difficult issues, we believe Congress has established a thoughtful process for understanding the issue better, and we intend to engage in that process, with FDA, as it takes its course,” the statement said.

Most U.S. states set 18 as the age at which one can legally purchase cigarettes. Four states, including Utah, already require tobacco purchasers to be 19. The other three include Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey.

State legislatures in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey are also considering proposals that would raise the smoking age to 21. Meanwhile, Maryland lawmakers considered and rejected the idea this year. New York City last year increased the tobacco age to 21, as did Hawaii County, Hawaii.

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