Vermont House approves bumping smoking age from 18 to 21
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont House gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would raise the age to buy or possess cigarettes — including electronic cigarettes — and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The vote was taken on a bill that contained a different implementation date than the original legislation passed by the Senate so the two chambers will have to agree on a date before it can be passed and sent to the governor. The Senate version of the bill called for an effective date of July 1, 2019. The House version delayed implementation to Sept. 1, 2019.
Under the bill, violators would face a civil fine of $25 and the forfeiture of the illicit tobacco products.
"Raising the legal age to use tobacco is a public health and an economic issue," Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said in a statement. "We know that in order to keep Vermont kids away from tobacco products, we need to keep tobacco products out of the middle and high school supply chain."
In addition to the measure passed Tuesday, the Vermont House has already passed two measures this session designed to reduce smoking.
One would increase the taxes on e-cigarette products to match the existing excise tax on traditional tobacco products. The other would add e-cigarettes and vaping products to the existing restriction on internet sales of tobacco products. Both of those measures are still pending in the Senate.