Use the dropdown list to select a state
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed SB1423 into law raising the minimum to buy tobacco products in Oklahoma to 21 on May 19,2020. The legislation is meant to ensure that Oklahoma’s statutes now align with the federal Tobacco-Free Youth Act signed by President Donald Trump last December.
“Enforcing tobacco product age limits actually takes place at the state and local level, so even though the federal government had already raised the age to 21, we needed to make sure state law mirrored that so there was no confusion or ambiguity for the public, businesses or law enforcement,” said Rep. Greg McCartney, the principal author of SB1423.
This bill was promoted by the industry and retains purchase, user, and possession (PUP) provisions and preempts local governments from enacting ordinances more stringent than the state law.
Oklahoma has an above national average rate of both high school smoking and adult smoking. An estimated 88,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die due to smoking and 2,100 children become daily smokers each year. The high school student’s e-cigarette usage rate is 16.4%; driving up Oklahoma’s overall youth tobacco use rates.
This results in an annual health care cost of $1.62 billion that is directly caused by smoking and another $2.1 billion in lost productivity. Oklahoma is one of very few states that spends as much as 57.2% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, which is protected by state law, but the state’s tax is only $1.03 per pack.
State law does not allow for local Tobacco 21 laws, but this does not mean local government can’t play an important role. A good example is Washington State, which is also preempted locally concerning Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) increases. In Washington, city councils and local boards of health passed resolutions in support of the statewide law under consideration by the legislature. Resolutions cost nothing, but clearly help fuel momentum toward better protection for your kids. Please consider calling your local board of health, city council member or county commissioner. Your voice is very important to legislators considering Tobacco 21 laws, all it takes is one or two phone calls or emails to support the movement to raise the age.