SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah legislature will consider a bill next session to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes from 19 to 21. The sponsor says it should save lives and taxpayer money.
Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, says the research shows teens try cigarettes early but usually get addicted around age 20.
"If we can delay the actual getting hooked on cigarettes to a little bit later, then the people may never get hooked," Powell said.
"It's not just the cost in terms of human suffering, it's also a cost in terms of our taxpayers' budgets."
Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, is the senate sponsor. Powell says if fewer people smoke, then fewer people will die from lung cancer, heart disease, and such and save the state's health care system those costs.
"It's not just the cost in terms of human suffering, it's also a cost in terms of our taxpayers' budgets," Powell said.
He anticipates some lawmakers will say this is overreach, but keeping people from getting addicted will save lives and save the state money in healthcare costs.
New York is also looking at increasing the age to buy cigarettes to 21 as well. In most states, the legal age is 18.