Tobacco-Purchase Age Bills Stumble In Four States

Tobacco-Purchase Age Bills Stumble In Four States

Lawmakers in four states have taken action to stunt the progress of newly introduced bills that seek to raise the minimum tobacco purchase age to 21 years old. Legislation in Indiana, Idaho and Mississippi failed to meet the deadline for a vote, while the South Dakota House flat out defeated its bill.

Mississippi House Bill 140, which sought to “prohibit the sale or distribution of tobacco products to persons under the age of 21” was referred to the House Committee on Drug Policy in the beginning of January. It failed to meet the January 30 deadline to report bills out of committee and did not reach a vote.

Similarly, lawmakers in Idaho introduced SB 1255 at the beginning of February. It was then referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee, which voted to hold the bill in committee, effectively killing the legislation.

Indiana House Bill 1380 suffered a more dramatic defeat. The bill passed the House Public Health Committee in a unanimous 9-0 vote on January 30, just two days before the committee deadline. But the following day House Speaker Brian Bosma swiftly referred the bill to the Ways and Means Committee, killing its chances of reaching the house floor.

South Dakota House Bill 1250, after passing the Health and Human Services committee on February 6, was defeated on the house floor by a vote of 45-21 last Wednesday.

While the stoppage of these four bills is a victory for opponents of the age increase, similar legislation is still active in fourteen states. Currently, there are bills that seek to establish a minimum purchase age above the national standard of 18 years old in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee (from 18 to 19), Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.