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On the Rise

Members of the California Medical Association want the state to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, which would be the highest in the nation.

The association, which represents 35,000 doctors, is expected to vote on the proposal next week. If passed, the resolution would direct the association's lobbyists to support legislation that would raise the legal age for buying, possessing or receiving tobacco products. No such legislation is pending, the Associated Press reported.

Such a bill would also make it illegal to sell cigarettes to those younger than 21.

All 50 states set a minimum age of at least 18 to buy tobacco products following a 1992 directive from Congress. In three other states, Alabama, Alaska and Utah, the legal age is 19.

The American Lung Association, which estimates 90 percent of all smokers pick up the habit before the age of 21, favors enforcing current laws rather than raising the age limit. That sentiment was echoed by at least one tobacco company.

"What's far more important, and certainly we can agree, is kids should not be smoking and we very actively support enforcement of existing laws to keep tobacco out of the hands of minors," Tom Ryan, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA told the Associated Press.
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