Bill seeking to raise Idaho's smoking age from 18 to 21 will return to legislature

An advocacy group seeking to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 is back at the Statehouse this year.Tobacco 2...

Posted: Jan 15, 2018 12:41 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2018 12:41 PM

An advocacy group seeking to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 is back at the Statehouse this year.

Tobacco 21 introduced legislation last year, but the bill failed to make it out of committee.

"We know that 95 percent of adult smokers start smoking before age 21," Corey Surber, St. Alphonsus Director of Advocacy, said. "We're spending about $508 million a year in tobacco-related illness costs, and that comes down to about $640 for every household in Idaho. It's a significant cost in terms of lives and financially to the state."

The advocates say much of the pushback they receive is from tobacco and e-cigarette retailers.

"We didn't hear from legislators concern about decrease in tobacco tax revenue... it's more around the freedom issues or whether the government should intervene in telling people what to do," Surber said. "We think the proper role of government is to protect the health and safety of Idahoans."

As for e-cigarettes and vapes, Dr. Jennifer Shalz says allowing teens and young people access to these products doesn't keep them from smoking in the future.

"Research has not supported that it's that effective to get people to stop smoking and, as it turns out, the only people who are just using e-cigarettes are the adolescents," Shalz said.

Shalz says it comes down to nicotine dependence.

"They'll start vaping first and they'll move on to cigarettes," Shalz said. "That's the hope of the tobacco companies. They are they replacement smokers. They are replacing the people who are smokers who died."

Five states, including Oregon, have passed legislation raising the smoking age to 21.

Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, will introduce the legislation in the Senate State Affairs Committee this session.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
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Hinds10414204
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Jackson6655128
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Clarke94853
Jasper87023
Stone82015
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Walthall79330
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Carroll75515
Lawrence74614
Smith74216
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Tunica63019
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Kemper48018
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Jefferson38312
Choctaw3637
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Sharkey32917
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
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Covington227934
Escambia206131
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Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
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Bibb123938
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Hale99732
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Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
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