Vermont Debates Higher Smoking Age

The House will soon vote on a bill that raises the state’s smoking age to 21.

March 30, 2016

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont is on the road to join California and Hawaii as states with a smoking age of 21. Yesterday, the Vermont House debated the merits of raising the legal age to purchase and smoke tobacco products from the current age of 18 to 21. The bill would schedule a gradual rise of one year of age each calendar year starting in January 2017 until age 21 is reached in 2020, the Times Argus reports.

“Raising the age to 21 reduces the likelihood that an 18- or even 19-year-old high school student would be able to purchase products for other students or underage friends,” said Rebecca Ryan, of the American Lung Association’s unit in Vermont.

California and Hawaii recently passed laws to raise the smoking age to 21, with several other states also mulling such a change. As written, the measure “will only serve to penalize law-abiding retailers by reducing the sale of legal tobacco products to adults of legal age,” Thomas Briant, executive director and legal counsel with the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, said during a House committee hearing. House Majority Leader Sarah Copeland Hanzas doesn’t expect difficulty in the House approving the bill.

For more on why states and municipalities continue to increase the age limit for tobacco purchases, read “Must Be 21 to Buy” in the March issue of NACS Magazine.