The Washington legislature has passed legislation to raise the sales age for all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, to 21. The bill now heads to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) led these statewide efforts to pass this bill for the past four years. Mary McHale, Washington government relations director for ACS CAN, released the following statement:
“This legislation will help save lives and protect youth from tobacco, which is the leading cause of preventable death. We know the tobacco industry preys on young people to replace the adults dying from their products, and too many children become addicted before they grow up. Many of these kids become regular daily smokers between ages 18 and 21, and the longer we can keep tobacco products away from them, the less likely they will start. In fact, 95 percent of adults who smoke begin before age 21.
“We’re struggling with an epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, which has risen almost 80 percent nationwide in the past year. By raising the age of sale for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, we will help keep these products out of high schools so that youth in our state can live longer, healthier lives. Unless current smoking rates in Washington decline, 104,000 kids in our state who are alive today will eventually die from a tobacco-related illness.”
If signed into law by Inslee, Washington will become the seventh state – in addition to Washington, D.C. – to implement effective legislation supported by ACS CAN to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.