Governor Jay Inslee of the U.S. state of Washington Friday signed a bill into law raising the state’s smoking age to 21 years, making Washington the ninth state in the country to introduce such legislation, Inslee’s office said.
The new law raised the legal minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 years old to 21. It was passed in the Washington Senate last Wednesday and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
“We know the risks associated with tobacco and nicotine … We know how much easier it is to prevent our children from becoming addicted in the first place than to treat the addiction later in life, or even worse, to treat the cancers and diseases caused by these products,” Inslee said.
The governor signed the bill in the presence of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, dozens of students, legislators and local health officials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the largest city in the state.
Ferguson, who is a strong advocate of the bill, said the legislature is “saving thousands of Washingtonians from a lifetime of addiction and smoking-related illness through this bill.”
Hawaii was the first U.S. state to raise the smoking age to 21 when its governor signed a bill in 2015 to ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 21. Hawaii’s law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
Other U.S. states that have introduced similar laws include California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Oregon, in addition to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and the District of Columbia.