The Senate State Affairs Committee introduced legislation Wednesday that would raise the legal age of tobacco use in Idaho from 18 to 21. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, is intended to make it more difficult for minors and young adults to take up smoking or tobacco use. The age restriction also would apply to the sale and use of e-cigarettes, writes Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence.
Tobacco 21 Idaho, a coalition of various health and education groups, said nearly 95 percent of all adult smokers start smoking before the age of 21. Raising the age limit is an effort to improve the health of Idaho citizens, as well as to reduce the estimated $500 million in annual health care costs associated with tobacco use.
“I think this would have a very positive effect on Idaho,” Martin said. He introduced similar legislation last year, but the State Affairs Committee killed the bill on a 5-4 vote. More than a dozen people testified on both sides of the issue during an emotional, 90-minute public hearing. You can read Spence’s full report here.