Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has signed a bill into law raising the state’s smoking age to 21 years, making it the ninth in the country to introduce such legislation, officials said.
The new law, which was signed on Friday, raised the legal minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 years old to 21. It was passed in the Washington Senate on Wednesday and will take effect on January 1, 2020.
“We know the risks associated with tobacco and nicotine … We know how much easier it is to prevent our children from becoming addicted in the first place than to treat the addiction later in life, or even worse, to treat the cancers and diseases caused by these products,” Inslee said.
The Governor signed the bill in the presence of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, dozens of students, legislators and local health officials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, the largest city in the state, Xinhua news agency reported.
Ferguson, a strong advocate of the bill, said the legislature was “saving thousands of people in Washington from a lifetime of addiction and smoking-related illness through this bill”.
Hawaii was the first US state to raise the smoking age to 21 when its Governor signed a bill in 2015 to ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 21. Hawaii’s law went into effect on January 1, 2016.
Other US states that introduced similar laws include California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Oregon, in addition to the US Pacific territory of Guam and the District of Columbia.