Session Update: Raise The Age To Use Tobacco To 21 Passes Assembly

AB 422 Passes Assembly On A Voice Vote, Senate Hearing Next


As the legislative session quickly comes to an end for the year, dozens of bills will fly through the State Senate and the Assembly in hopes of becoming law before the clock runs out. Last year MacIver discussed the latest local developments in the national vaping controversy. At that time, the vaping of black market THC products had resulted in over forty deaths across the nation and lead to a debate in the Legislature about the regulation of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping products.

MacIver Newsmakers Podcast interviewed Wisconsin native Jennifer Hunter of Altria to discuss their idea to increase the age to use tobacco to 21. You can listen to that podcast here.

Since that time, Congress passed the 21 to use tobacco law at the federal level and the Trump Administration has clamped down on vaping by limiting flavors and certain devices.

Back in Wisconsin, Assembly Bill 422, a bill to raise the age to use tobacco to 21, is scheduled for a floor vote in the Assembly on Thursday. The state bill, authored by Representative Spiros and Senator Marklein, would mimic federal law by saying that no one under 21 would be allowed to use tobacco products, including vaping products that include nicotine. The bill would also ensure local law enforcement efforts matched that of federal law enforcement.

As we discussed before, supporters of tobacco 21 laws at the state level believe this will put a serious dent in use of tobacco by young people. High school seniors who turn 18 before they graduate will no longer be allowed to purchase tobacco and bring it around minors. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started before they were 18 and most young smokers get tobacco from friends who have turned 18. 

According to Sen. Marklein, “the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found raising the minimum legal sales age nationwide would reduce tobacco initiation, particularly among adolescents aged 15 to 17 and lead to a 12% reduction in smoking over time.”

There is word that an amendment will be offered today in the Assembly that everyone involved will support. If true, that suggests  the bill will have both Republicans and Democrats supporting it today and that it will move through both houses.

As always, to stay on top of all the bills moving back and forth between the two houses as the session comes to a rapid end, including the latest on the raise the age to use tobacco to 21 bill, follow @maciverwisc.