House committee passes bill to raise legal age to purchase tobacco to 21

A bill to raise the legal age for purchase of tobacco products from 18 to 21 passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday by a 14-3 vote.

Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, would put Kentucky in compliance with the new federal law which also raises the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. While the federal legislation puts the policy into effect, the enforcement and penalties are handled at the state level.

Senate Bill 56 would remove the status offenses for underage persons who possess or use tobacco products and shifts the focus to the retailers.

Alvarado said in committee that 95 percent of daily smokers started before the age of 21 and this legislation will be able to slash the number of kids who start using, cut down on access to the products, and lower addiction.

Senate Bill 56 now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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