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D.C. Legislator Wants To Increase Minimum Age For Tobacco Purchases

Tobacco purchases are limited to those over the age of 18, but that could change in D.C.
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Tobacco purchases are limited to those over the age of 18, but that could change in D.C.

In D.C., turning 18 means you can legally vote, enlist and buy cigarettes. But now one D.C. legislator wants to put tobacco a little further out of reach for those crossing the milestone.

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) says that on Tuesday he will introduce a bill that would increase the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21, putting it alongside the legal age for drinking.

“We have an obligation to stay on the leading edge of smoking prevention strategies here in the District," said McDuffie in a statement. "By restricting tobacco sales to young people, we can prevent many of our youth from acquiring a terrible, deadly addiction. Research shows that delaying access to tobacco products is an effective means of long-term smoking prevention."

Last week, the New York City Council approved the same law; in 2005, Needham, Mass. became the first place in the country to restrict tobacco sales to those above the age of 21.

In recent years, D.C. has tightened restrictions on smokers. Smoking has been banned in bars and restaurants since 2007, and D.C. allows building owners to post no-smoking signs at their entrances, requiring smokers to stand at least 25 feet away. In October, the Council passed a bill prohibiting smoking with 25 feet of city playgrounds, recreation centers and bus stops.

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