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Washington set to raise smoking and vaping age to 21

Washington is set to become the ninth state to raise the legal age for buying tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping products to 21.

The Washington State Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 33-12 Wednesday to raise the sale age for tobacco and vapor products from 18.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Washington State Department of Health jointly requested the legislation, according to an announcement from Ferguson’s office. Gov. Jay Inslee has said he will sign the legislation.

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“By passing this bill, the Legislature is saving thousands of Washingtonians from a lifetime of addiction and smoking-related illnesses,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Because 18- to 20-year-olds supply younger teens with tobacco and vape products, this will reduce the number of cigarettes and vape products in our high schools, which will lead to fewer kids getting addicted. I want to thank the large bipartisan group of elected leaders, health advocates, businesses, educators, students and parents for helping us make this happen. Addressing the heavy toll of tobacco-related disease, both in human lives and health care costs, moves us closer to being able to provide universal access to affordable health care for all Washingtonians.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies show youth smoking is on the downswing but vaping is increasingly popular. One in five high schoolers have reportedly used e-cigarettes in the the past month, according to the most recent reports. The CDC says about 90% of smokers start before age 18.

The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

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