HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A bill to raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products in Pennsylvania has passed the state Senate.
Senate Bill 473 raises the legal age to buy all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.
“22,000 Pennsylvanians die each year from tobacco-related diseases. It is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the United States,” said Sarah Lawver, Director of Advocacy for Pennsylvania for the American Lung Association. “We know that Tobacco 21 is a proven policy to decrease tobacco use and tobacco initiation amongst youth.”
Six senators voted against the bill when it came to a vote on Wednesday.
“While I personally discourage smoking, I voted against this bill because I do not believe 18, 19 and 20-year-old adults, who can vote and must register for the military draft, should be denied the right to buy an otherwise legal product,” said Senator John DiSanto, who voted against the bill.
Representative Greg Rothman introduced a similar bill in the House, however, his version includes an exemption for military members and veterans.
”The American Lung Association strongly discourages military exemptions in Tobacco 21 laws,” said Lawver. “Tobacco use hinders military readiness, and we believe in the fairness of the health protections in this policy.”
The bill now faces the House, if signed, Pennsylvania will join 18 other states who have raised the age.