Anyone in Washington who wants to purchase tobacco or vapor products in the new year will have to be 21 to do so.
Area public health departments are reminding people that Engrossed House Bill 1074 will go into effect Jan. 1, making it illegal to sell tobacco and vapor products to anyone younger than 21.
“Young people in Washington are in the middle of a vaping epidemic,” said Sundie Hoffman, the health educator at Asotin County Public Health District. “Raising the age of sale for tobacco and vapor products to 21 will reduce the number of kids who develop a lifelong addiction to nicotine and save thousands of lives.”
Eighteen states, Washington, D.C., and Guam, currently have a 21-and-older law.
According to the Healthy Youth Survey, 1 in 5 Washington 10thgraders and 1 in 3 12th graders reported using vapor products in 2018.
“Nearly all people who smoke begin smoking before age 21 — while their brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine — and most young people get tobacco and nicotine products from peers in their social networks who can legally buy them,” according to a news release from Whitman County Public Health. “Youth who vape are at an increased risk of initiating cigarette smoking. Raising the legal age of sale will help protect kids and teens by preventing them from getting tobacco and vapor products from 18-, 19- or 20-year-olds.”
Research shows increasing the age of sale for tobacco and vapor products will help decrease the number of youth “who develop a lifelong addiction to nicotine and save thousands of lives,” according to the news release.