- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz, Dick Durbin, Sherrod Brown and seven others have backed legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 21.

Mr. Schatz, who introduced the legislation, hails from Hawaii, the only state where the smoking age is already 21. In other states the legal age is 18.

“This year, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the minimum smoking age to 21,” he said in a statement. “It was an historic public health achievement that we should adopt nationwide. By raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 across the country, we can cut the number of new smokers each year; build a healthier, tobacco free America; and save lives.”

Mr. Durbin, of Illinois, said, “Thanks to tobacco control measures like banning smoking in public places and placing warning labels on cigarette cartons, far fewer people smoke now than did 50 years ago.”

Background information from the senators included a recent report by the Institute of Medicine, which found that raising the national smoking age to 21 would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.

Senators co-sponsoring the bill are Democrats Ed Markey, Barbara Boxer, Jack Reed, Elizabeth Warren, Mazie Hirono, Richard Blumenthal, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Democrats Diana DeGette and Mark Takai.

“The harder it is for children and teenagers to get their hands on tobacco products, the easier it will be to keep our next generation from becoming hooked on nicotine,” said Mr. Brown, of Ohio.

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