Tobacco age limit bill goes to full Senate

Posted at 12:05 PM, Feb 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-20 19:09:51-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill Thursday that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 19 to 21.

SB0012 was approved with a 4-1 vote, which sends it to the full Senate.

Lawmakers heard valid arguments from people who oppose and support the bill. And while there's no doubt they agree that data shows smoking can lead to serious health problems, they parted ways when it came to finding the right balance when it comes to individual liberties.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Stuart Reid, laid out his argument before committee members with some help from health leaders. They said their goal is to reduce the chances of kids becoming addicted to tobacco products. They also argued that the state could save millions of dollars in long-term health costs.

Supporters claimed Utahns are on board with the bill, citing the results of a recent Dan Jones and Associates survey that shows 67 percent of Utah voters favor it.

If the bill goes through, Utah would be the first state in the nation to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.