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Florida Raises Legal Smoking Age to 21

Florida Raises Legal Smoking Age to 21

The age limit for people who can buy tobacco products has been raised from 18 to 21 in Florida. The new SB 1080 directive was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last week without strong opposition from members of the Florida Legislature. The Senate voted 29-9 to pass SB-1080  into law. Both political parties were in support of passing the bill, although there has been strong opposition from the public health agencies. The American Heart Association and the American Lung Association
Public Health officials say the new law will make the ability to regulate youth smoking harder and less effective. They argue that the law gives the power of regulating tobacco smoking among young people to the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. However, public health officials say they local counties and municipalities would be more effective in curbing retailers who sell tobacco and other nicotine products to underage people.
However, Tampa Republican Jackie Toledo who sponsored the bill says it’s an important step in reducing the use of tobacco and nicotine people by people under 21 in Florida. Toledo also says the new law will also help in the enforcement of age consent for smoking and vaping.
According to a statement by Toledo, the new law will only become effective on Oct.1. “The legislation is a step in the right direction, demonstrating Florida’s commitment to work with regulators and stakeholders to combat underage use,” her statement read.
Some of the lawmakers who supported the passing of this bill into law are Naples Republican Bob Rommel. Miami Democrat Nick Duran and Travis Hutson also supported the bill in the Senate.
“We have over 300 municipalities, 67 counties, and if people had multiple stores and sold multiple products and multiple municipalities for them to file multiple different regulations, it would be impossible for people to do business,” Bob Rommel said while defending the bill in a House Commerce Committee meeting last month.
Toledo is concerned about vaping products and the effects they may have in the long term. Although vaping is generally considered safer than cigarette smoking, it's not without its drawbacks. And there is no scientific data on the effects of long-term vaping on the body.
“In our view, (doing) nothing is better than this bill,” Susan Harbin, the senior government relations director for the American Cancer Society Action Network said.
Members of the US. the military are exempt from the prohibitions of the newly passed law. However, the Defense Department has already raised the legal smoking age limit to 21 years old for everyone in the military.
“If you can sign your name and raise your hand and be handed an M16 and be asked to die for your country, smoking is the littlest thing that you have to worry about,” Palm Beach County House Democrat Matt Willhite said.
This is not the first time Gov. DeSantis has attempted to address the problem of smoking and vaping among underage teenagers. Last year, Gov. DeSantis vetoed a similar measure, the Simmons bill after arguing that it banned the sale of flavored e-juice nicotine products. The newly passed law is quite different from the bill presented to the governor last year.
“The Simmons bill redefined e-cigarettes – vaping products – as tobacco products, consistent with the federal definition. The FDA defines e-cigarettes as tobacco products. So, Simmons bill did that. This bill does not. It separates nicotine products out as if they are distinct, separate, and somehow better,” Shannon Quinby, eastern regional director of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation/Tobacco 21 says.
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