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AG trying again to raise tobacco purchase age to 21

Washington’s Attorney General is going to make another attempt at raising the tobacco purchase age to 21.

Democrat Bob Ferguson backed similar legislation the last two sessions. Those bills did not pass.

Under his proposal, only those 21 and over would be allowed to buy tobacco or vaping liquids. Current law requires tobacco purchasers to be over 18.

“Hopefully the third time is a charm,” said Ferguson, who said he has the support of health advocates, businesses and Governor Jay Inslee, D-Washington.

Eliminating sales under 21 would result in $16 million in lost tax revenue over the next two years, according to the governor’s budget writers. Ferguson said that factor played a role in the bill dying the last two years.

Critics also defended the rights of those over 18 to buy tobacco products. Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said if someone is old enough to go to war, they should be able to buy cigarettes.

Ferguson said raising the limit will prevent teens from starting smoking as adults.

“It will save lives,” said Ferguson.

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