Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Bill to raise smoking age goes up in flames
Choice » Senators complain bill interferes adults’ right to choose legal product.
First Published Mar 03 2014 05:44 pm • Last Updated Mar 03 2014 06:17 pm

The Senate sent up in flames Monday an attempt to raise Utah’s already highest-among-the-states smoking age a little higher, from 19 to 21.

The Senate voted down SB12 on a 12-16 vote, after arguments that raising the smoking age would interfere with adults’ right to use a legal product, could make someone old enough to go to war a criminal for smoking, and could cost the state millions a year in tobacco tax.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"These are not children," Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, said about the 19- and 20-year olds who would be banned from smoking under the bill — even though she adds she hates smoking.

"I can send my son to war" at 18, she said. "He comes back and I say, ‘You can’t have a cigarette, it’s bad for you?’ " She added at 18, people can marry, have families and vote, but legislators would say, "You can’t do this one thing over here because we’re smarter than you."

Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, pushed the bill saying it would help prevent more teenagers from smoking because studies show most of them obtain their cigarettes from slightly older 19- and 20-year olds.

Also, he said studies show that "if don’t you don’t smoke before the age of 21, you are highly unlikely to smoke at all." Another plus to the measure, he said, was that it would match the state’s legal age for drinking at 21.

"There is no inherent value in smoking. None whatsoever," Reid said. "It is destructive in every way, shape and form… When we identify something of no inherent value, we put limitations on it."

Some lawmakers were concerned about the $2.67 million a year tax hit that fiscal analysts estimated.

Reid’s bill would have escaped competing for funding now to cover that loss because it would not take until July 1, 2016, which he said was designed to allow 19- and 20-year olds now smoking legally to reach age 21 before the bill took effect.

But Sens. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, and Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said passing it now could set it up to raid funds automatically in two years that other programs might need. Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, added she hates that tobacco tax funds many health programs that could be hurt by reducing that revenue.


story continues below
story continues below

"If we were going to outlaw smoking, that would be a whole other issue. But we keep trying to cut around the edges," she said. "My no vote on this bill is not because I think smoking is a good thing. But I don’t think this is the right way to address this issue."

Also, senators including Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, worried aloud that the law could create criminal records for adults for smoking a cigarette, and also would be tough to enforce.

Despite objections, Reid unsuccessfully urged senators to make Utah the first state to raise the smoking age to 21.

"It makes sense for Utah to lead out on this and set the example and make a statement to the nation that there’s nothing valuable in allowing young people to smoke," Reid said.

The legal age to buy, sell or possess tobacco in most states is 18, with four exceptions. It is 19 in Utah, Alaska, Alabama and New Jersey. New York City just approved raising the age to 21, as have some other U.S. cities



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.