SALT LAKE CITY(ABC4 News) – A bipartisan effort is underway in Washington to set a national age standard for smoking and vaping.
Two Utah lawmakers are taking a leading role and they say a strong message needs to be sent.
Wednesday, Republican and Democratic senators stood side by side with a common goal.
They want to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21.
“What we know is that tobacco damages the human body. What we know is that tobacco kills people,” said Senator Mitt Romney, (R) Utah.
Romney is teaming up with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the Tobacco to 21 Act.
In the House, Representative Chris Stewart is carrying the bill with one of his Democratic colleagues.
He says smoking and vaping among our youth is an epidemic.
“Twenty percent of our young people are vaping and smoking, much, much higher than it used to be. Two-thousand a day, every single day start vaping or start smoking now,” said Stewart, (R) Utah.
Lawmakers say it’s becoming socially acceptable, and companies are targeting teens with certain flavors.
That’s why they say the government needs to step in, despite calls for it to butt out.
“Recognizing that there are some people who object to this, we still think it’s important to send the message to our young people. Bad choice, terrible health decision, we want to make it harder, not easier for you to do it,” said Stewart.
“We also know that young people tend to have, in some cases, not a lot of perspective about the choices they are making, and perhaps, not enough experience to make the judgment that’s most wise for their long-term experience,” Romney said.
About a dozen states have already enacted laws raising the legal age to 21, Utah is one of them.
Our law passed this year and will phase the age to 21 over the next few years.