Two Utah lawmakers behind the push to increase smoking age

Local News

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.

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...