A bill that would gradually increase the legal age to purchase tobacco in Utah has narrowly passed out of committee.
If approved House Bill 324 would increase the legal purchase of tobacco in Utah going first from 19 to 20 in 2020 and then 20 to 21 in 2021. The bill passed out of the House Business and Labor Committee Tuesday after a 7 to 6 vote.
During hearings on the bill, a variety of people opposed its passing including companies who produce and sell tobacco and tobacco-related products.
The most surprising opposition to the bill comes from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The group urged lawmakers to reject the bill, not because of the change in age, but because it penalizes youth who buy but not the sellers and makers.
“We applaud our state legislators for wanting to reduce tobacco use including e-cigarettes, but the proposed bill as drafted will not provide the intended public health benefits or policy results. We won’t be able to support it,” said Brook Carlisle, government relations director for ACS CAN in Utah. “Unfortunately, House Bill 324 is the wrong solution to a major problem and we’re urging lawmakers to vote no.”
The bill now goes to the House for a vote.