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Spokane Health Board to Support Higher Tobacco Purchase Age

Spokane Regional Health District

The Spokane Regional Board of Health has approved a resolution related to smoking and vaping. The measure asks the Washington legislature to raise the minimum age for buying and selling tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21.

This is an issue that revives the debate about when someone is legally an adult. At 18, a young man or woman can join the military. They can get married without their parents’ permission. They can vote. And they can buy tobacco products, at least in Washington and Idaho. Oregon and California, as well as some cities and counties around the nation, have raised their tobacco purchase ages to 21.

Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz wants the state of Washington to join those governments. He says one of the target audiences is those who are younger than 18.

“Two-thirds of youth who are smoking are getting their cigarettes from older adolescents, teenagers,” Lutz said.

He believes raising the tobacco and vaping purchase age will provide an effective tool to reducing the supply for younger would-be smokers.

“The reality is that a 14-year-old probably doesn’t know that many 22, 23-year-olds that they’re going to go up and say ‘Hey, can you buy me some cigarettes?’ They’re going to go to their seniors in high school, maybe 18. They’re going to go to their older brother who’s back from college, back from freshman year in college,” Lutz said.

Lutz says the resolution also aims at those 18, 19 and 20-year-olds who may legally be adults, but whose brains may not be developed enough to have the impulse control to avoid smoking.


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