Debbie Marvidikis advocating for Tobacco 21.
In November, Debbie Marvidikis with the Southeastern Utah Health Department made a point to visit local organizations to speak on Tobacco 21 and its importance.
Marvidikis was successful in obtaining many signatures in a letter of support for this bill. On Wednesday, a bill to raise the age for tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (E-Cigs) to 21 passed through the Utah Legislature.
This bill, HB324, passed with a 55-16 concurrence vote in the House and 15-12 vote in the senate. Sponsored by Representative Steve Eliason, the bill will change the age from 19 to 20 beginning on July 1 of 2020 and a year later will rise again to age 21.
The age raise will include obtaining, possessing, using, furnishing or providing tobacco products and paraphernalia, again including the use of E-Cigs. One amendment was made to the bill as it was passed, changing the preemption language in the current code to add the minimum age of sale to what cannot be modified by cities and counties.
The Senate sponsor of the bill was Senator Curt Bramble, who stated that the compromise made would allow cities that have already raised the age for the sale of tobacco to keep the age at 21 rather than follow the incremental age increase.
Wide support has been expressed from health organizations as well as tobacco companies for the age change. According to Rep. Eliason, statistics have shown that a whopping 95% of those that smoke become addicted before age 21. The next step for HB324 will be to have it presented to Governor Gary Herbert for a signature.