Utah Votes Against Raising Tobacco Purchasing Age

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah will not become the first state to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.

The Utah Senate voted 12 to 16 against the proposed bill, arguing that the proposal infringes on the rights of adults to purchase a legal product, according to The Associated Press. The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Stuart Reid (R-18th District), pushed the measure so Utah could "set the example and make a statement to the nation."

Several senators said they are concerned about the negative effects of smoking, but couldn't support the measure.

"When do you become an adult?" asked Sen. Todd Weiler (R-23rd District). "If you raise it to 21, why not 23? Why not 25? Why not 50?"

Reid said his proposal would have brought the smoking age in line with the legal age to purchase and drink alcohol, and he added that the bill could prevent young people from becoming addicted to tobacco because it delays their access to it, the news outlet reported.

Still, opponents of Reid's bill argued there's no evidence to support these claims. Utah already is among four states that ban sales for those younger than 19, instead of 18.

The movement to up the minimum age to legally purchase tobacco products has gained traction over the past few months. New York City led the pack when city officials passed an ordinance to up the age from 18 to 21 in the fall. Similar measures have been introduced in Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Hawaii this year.

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