OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) –A proposed bill in Oklahoma aims to raise the smoking age to 21.
House Bill 2317, authored by Representative Ben Loring, D-Miami, wants to raise the age to purchase and use tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21.
Loring says Governor Mary Fallin's State of the State address Monday afternoon discussed raising the tax on tobacco in an effort to raise revenue for the state. Tobacco is said to be the state's leading cause of preventable death and costs the state $1.6 billion in related health care costs.
"My interest is to cut down those deaths and myriad other health problems resulting from tobacco use and to reduce those health costs to families and the state," Loring said in an e-mailed statement.
If the bill passes, Oklahoma won't be the only state with a tobacco age set at 21, Hawaii and many local governments have also raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
"The age limit for other legal but regulated addictive substances, alcohol, and marijuana (in other states) is 21. For good reason," Loring said.
If passed, the bill would go into effect Nov. 1, 2016.