For the second year in a row, the Washington State Legislature has failed to advance a bill that would raise the minimum purchase age for tobacco and vapor products to 21. Thanks to participation from consumers and advocates on the ground, smokers in Washington will continue to have access to low-risk alternatives to smoking, at least for the next year.
A special thank you is in order for Washington’s Pink Lung Brigade who have worked cooperatively with CASAA to keep our members informed and engaged. THANK YOU!!
Although we are concluding this call to action as successful, we are mindful that the discussion about Tobacco 21 in Washington continues. As noted during a committee hearing last year by Representative Paul Harris (R-H017 and HB 1054’s main sponsor), enacting tobacco (and vapor) 21 would create a revenue issue for the state. As a remedy, Rep. Harris is also sponsoring legislation (HB 2165) that would make up the difference by enacting a 60% tax on vapor products.
When speaking in support of his tax bill, Rep. Harris is one of the few lawmakers who has publicly admitted that what is he proposing is “really all about the money.” While we can certainly appreciate his candid assessment, the fact remains that Washington is rejecting Tobacco 21 for fiscal reasons rather than recognizing the consequences of restricting access to and misleading consumers about safer alternatives to smoking–also a fiscal concern.
Representative Harris, although misguided, is very passionate about protecting young people. Advocates in Washington can expect to see the Tobacco 21 and accompanying tax bill resurface in future legislative sessions. CASAA urges our members to remain vigilant and continue the dialogue with lawmakers about the benefits of harm reduction.
Thank you for your participation!