An effort to raise the smoking age to 21 is moving forward. The bill’s sponsor hopes the deal will be enough to satisfy opponents and pave the way for greater restrictions on tobacco use.
"If it isn’t done today, I doubt that’ll it’ll be done this year. So the impotence is to take something less than perfect and try to continue to work with our colleagues," said Sen. David Simmons (R-Longwood).
He wants to join 12 other states who have already increased the minimum legal sale age for tobacco to 21.
Throughout committee hearing the bill gained a lot of support from health experts but Rivers Buford for the American Heart Association did have one problem with it.
"Unfortunately, the American Heart Association cannot support the bill with the cigar exemption in their sir. The cigar exemption is, doesn’t make any sense," said Buford.
Monday Simmons made an amendment to change his bill.
"It increases the age for all tobacco products including cigars. And vaping products, devices and products to 21 years of age," said Simmons.
But opponents say it shouldn’t include vaping devices from being sold to people under 21. They say it’s because sometimes vaping is used as a way to wean people off of cigarettes. But Juul backs the bill, they are one of the largest producers of vapor products. Simmons read their press release describing why.
"We are committed to preventing use or access to our products because no young person, or non-nicotine user should ever try Juul. Raising the minimum purchase age for all tobacco products has been shown to reduce youth smoking rates. That is why we support efforts by Florida’s lawmakers to raise the minimum purchase age for all tobacco products. Including vapor products like Juul to 21," read Simmons.
Juul believes raising the age to 21 will keep it out of the hand of minors by not allowing 18-year-old high school kids to purchase them.
The bill was moved to third reading and Simmons hopes that before the week is out and the session is over it will ultimately be passed through and send to the governor.