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State could raise smoking age to 21

Legislation being called the “Tobacco 21 Act” has been filed for the 2018 Session to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Backing this year’s bills (SB 1288, HB 1029) are Sen. David Simmons, a Longwood Republican, and Reps. Don Hahnfeldt of The Villages (a Republican) and Lori Berman of Lantana (a Democrat).

“Raising the age limit for smoking to 21 years is essential if we are serious about saving lives and reducing the cost of healthcare,” Simmons said in a statement, mentioning the costs of treating “lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and emphysema.”

“Studies have found that nearly all first use of tobacco takes place before high school graduation and approximately 1.5 million packs of cigarettes are purchased for minors annually,” Berman added.

“I am hopeful this bill will prevent our youth from taking up the tobacco habit.”

If passed this year, Florida could join “a growing list of states including California, Hawaii, Oregon and New Jersey, plus over 250 cities, including New York City that are getting very serious about saving billions of dollars in health costs, lost productivity and improving quality of life,” according to a legislative press release.

Session begins Jan. 9.

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