CHARLESTON, WV (AP)- A bill moving through the West Virginia Legislation, would raise the legal tobacco use from 18 to 21.
The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, passed a bill on to the Judiciary for possible consideration. The bill would prohibit those under 21 from purchasing e-cigarettes as well. The legislation would impose a misdemeanor and fines of $300 for the first offense, at least $600 for second offense and at least $1,000 for the third offense of selling or providing tobacco products to people under 21.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia has among the highest youth smoking rates in the nation. The state loses about 4,300 people a year to tobacco related illnesses according to Dr. Cathy Slemp. Slemp said the impact of raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21 is estimated to be less than a quarter of 1% of the state’s tobacco tax revenue. Several states including Indiana, Illinois, and Virginia have similar bills pending.