Proposed Bill Would Increase Legal Smoking Age from 18 to 21

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 statewide.

The discussion comes as the American Lung Association gives the state an F for efforts to control smoking.

The American Lung Association said the number one way states can keep young people from picking up the habit is by raising the legal smoking age. It gave Connecticut low scores in the areas of tobacco prevention and cessation funding and access to services to publicly funded initiatives to help residents quit smoking.

The proposed bill, H.B. No. 5384, is sponsored by Rep. Prasad Srinivasan (R-Glastonbury) and co-sponsors. The measure has already become reality in two other states – Hawaii and California.

"I think it's good," Vandana Kant, of Milford, said. "Teenagers, they don't know what to do."

Edwin Rivera, of East Haven, said raising the smoking age might keep teens from thinking about smoking until they are 21, while Mark Thompson, of New Haven, said 21 might even be too young.

"Young kids smoking is not a good thing. I would raise it to 31 if it was up to me," Thompson said.

Some, however, said the government shouldn't be telling adults what to do.

"At 18, you're an adult. You should be able to make your own decisions. Leave it alone," Joe King, of New Haven, said.

Gerry Katz owns the Shell Station on Willow Street in New Haven and said cigarette sales make up more than a third of his sales, so raising the age would hurt business.

"It's just another thing the state is going to come up with. If it's going to be passed, that's just going to put a real hurting on convenience stores like myself," Katz said.

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