AP NEWS

Tobacco purchase age increases to 21 in Washington state

December 30, 2019 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state’s age for legally purchasing tobacco was set to increase from 18 to 21 beginning Jan. 1, but a change in federal law has already effectively raised the age.

The Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board said that prior to Jan. 1, state officers encountering retailers selling to people under 21 will provide education instead of pursuing enforcement, The Seattle Times reported.

Congress inserted the provision raising the purchase age into an emergency spending bill signed by the president Dec. 20.

New federal legislation does not normally take effect immediately, but the change was made to existing law, a Food and Drug Administration spokesman said.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee requested that more regulations on vaping products be adopted in the next Washington state legislative session, which begins Jan. 13.

The stated goal behind both the national and state change is to to curb smoking, vaping and nicotine addiction among youth.

The age increase signed by Inslee last spring is based on research showing most people start smoking in their teens and early 20s.

The new law is intended to slow the use of vaping products in schools, where 18-year-old students are able to purchase products for classmates who are still minors, officials said.