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Lawmakers raise Utah smoking age to 21, may add 'sin' tax to vaping products

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The legal age to buy and use tobacco products will soon change from 18 to 21 in Utah. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — If you want to smoke before you are 21 in Utah, join the military or marry someone who has.

The legal age to buy and use tobacco products will soon change from 19 to 21 in Utah, including vape products. And thanks to another bill, those vape products could carry a much higher tax with them, just like other traditional tobacco products.

The tobacco bill will increase gradually from the current requirement of 19 to 20 and then 21 July 1, 2021. But members of the military, or those with an honorable discharge, are exempt from the age requirement and will be able to smoke at 18, the same age a person can join the military without parental consent.

The bill, HB0324, states:

"This section does not apply to the purchase or possession of a cigar, cigarette, electronic cigarette, tobacco, or tobacco paraphernalia by an individual who is 18 years or older and is on active duty in the United States Armed Forces; or a spouse or dependent of an individual who is on active duty in the United States Armed Forces."

Meanwhile, as of press time, HB0252, that would raise tax on vape products 86 percent, wasn't yet voted on by the Utah Senate.. It passed the House and had its first reading in the Senate on the final day of the legislative session. Opponents of the bill say electronic or vape cigarettes are a safer alternative to cigarettes and help people to stop using paper cigarettes or cigars .

The Centers for Disease Control says e-cigarettes, or vapes, have the potential to benefit adult smokers as a “complete substitute for regular cigarettes.”

Each bill would still require a signature from Gov. Gary Herbert.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this report erroneously stated the legal age to purchase tobacco in Utah was 18. It is 19, except for military exceptions.

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