Local Cancer Volunteer Urges State Lawmakers to Raise Washington’s Tobacco Sales Age to 21

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

On January 30, Sara Montgomery from Woodinville joined dozens of cancer patients, survivors and their families throughout Washington at the Capitol for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) annual Cancer Day at the Capitol. During the day-long event, advocates met with their legislators to urge them to pass legislation to fight cancer—the no. 1 cause of death in Washington state.

Specifically, the group urged lawmakers to protect Washington kids from a lifetime addiction by raising the state’s tobacco sales age to 21, by supporting Senate Bill (SB) 6048 and House Bill 1054, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) and Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver). These bills would raise the sales age for all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, to age 21. Every year, 2,500 Washington kids start smoking. I’m very grateful that Rep. Derek Stanford (LD1) has signed on as a sponsor of the bill.

“It was a great day meeting with legislators to tell them about issues that can help fight cancer. One of the ways we can do that is by passing legislation to help fight tobacco use, such as raising the tobacco sales age to 21,” said Montgomery, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer. “We know that 95 percent of adult smokers start before turning 21, so if we can raise the sales age and prevent them from starting by that age, they likely never will.”

Washington could become the sixth state with the higher tobacco age, following California, Hawaii, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine.

Tobacco  use is the leading cause of preventable death, killing 8,300 Washingtonians annually. Washington ranks 42nd in the nation in tobacco control funding, spending $1.4 million per year on programs to fight tobacco use. That’s about 2 percent of the CDC- recommended amount. The group will also urge legislators to consider increasing state funding.

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