Push to raise Louisiana smoking age to 21 fails again despite claims it could save state billions

(Photo credit: Brad Bowie, Advocate Staff Photo)

By: Hunter Lovell, LSU Manship School News Service

Published: May 23, 2019

BATON ROUGE–Louisiana House lawmakers struck down a proposal Thursday to raise the state’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21 for most people. The bill was only backed by 24 legislators while 55 voted against it.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, would have banned anyone under 21 from purchasing tobacco, alternative nicotine or vaping products.

Lawmakers already had their reservations about the bill when it advanced through the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month. In an effort to accommodate legislators’ concerns, the proposed bill would have exempted first responders, military members and veterans.

Still, the bill fell short of the support needed to pass in the lower chamber.

A higher smoking age, Hoffmann stressed, would result on health benefits and health care savings. He also cited reports from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that showed 7,200 Louisianians die from smoking each year and that the state pays $1.8 billion in annual health care costs.

“Folks, this is a health issue,” said Hoffmann, a former smoker, in his closing remarks. “It’s a simple but tremendously important concept. It’ll reduce deaths, make better health, save money in the long run and make life better for many.”

Read more in The Advocate.

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