Okla. could raise age to buy tobacco

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Updated: 2/15/2012 9:26 am Published: 2/14/2012 9:30 pm

Lawmakers are pushing to make it harder for young people to get their hands on cigarettes, cigars and dip. They want to increase the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21-years-old.

Tobacco kills about 6,000 Oklahomans each year but many people say smoking should be a decision an 18-year-old does make.

"If they're old enough to vote, if they’re old enough to fight for out country then I think they're old enough to smoke or have a beer if they want one," said Melissa Ryan.

She's been smoking for 20 years. This mother knows the health risk and even tells her 18-year-old son to stay away from smoking. But she feels it has to be a person's choice.

"If somebody comes back from Iraq are you going to tell them, I'm sorry you can't have a cigarette? I'm sorry you’re stressed."

She says there needs to be less control.

"I really don't think it's the governments right to tell them what they can do, why change something that's been this way this long?" Ryan told FOX23.

But under this proposed bill, the age limit would increase to 19-years-old in 2013, 20 in 2014, and 21-years-old in 2015.

Republican Representative Ann Coody of Lawton authored the bill. She says quote, "I believe that if young people had to wait until 21 to buy tobacco they would be mature enough to realize that it's not wise to begin participating in a past time that is so addictive."

But many people say if someone wants to smoke, they'll do it.

"If it's 18 or 21, if they want it they're going to get it no matter how they're going to get it," said Jennifer Smiley.

Heath Oden agrees.  "They are still going to smoke. 18-year-olds drink. They find ways around it," said Oden.

This bill was suggested to Representative Coody by one of her constituents.  Her biggest concern is improving Oklahoma's overall healthcare ranking which is currently 48th in the nation.

A handful of states have increased the legal age to purchase tobacco to 19, but Oklahoma would be the first to increase the age to 21. 

The bill now heads to the full house for consideration.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

jarhead40 - 2/17/2012 6:25 AM
0 Votes
Attempting to legislate a behavior that for the most part is socially acceptable, considered relatively harmless (if they really believed that they would die from it then they wouldn't so it), and a personal choice only accomplishes a rebellious nature to government intrusion. If they really were concerned about the unhealthy nature of smoking then several things can be done that are within the power of government...reduce the levels of nicotine (levels of nicotine have doubled in the last 10 years and is scheduled to increase to over 18% in the next five.), restrict the production to certain levels (this will increase the price through the free market), and mandate (I really don't like that word but when it comes to entitlements I have no problem with gov. mandating to the recipients.)smoking cessation classes and aids for those on the gov. dole!

thedannyblythe - 2/15/2012 9:37 PM
0 Votes
Raise it to 99. Maybe that would've helped us all out. I need to quit. There's nothing good about it.

1deldredge - 2/15/2012 3:41 PM
0 Votes
no,they should raise the age to 25 or higher and the indian smoke shops need to do the same....

mustangdriver - 2/15/2012 1:03 PM
0 Votes
Just another politician trying to make a name for themselves. If your going to raise the age, just do it, whats with the gradual increase? I agree with pocketrocket, if they are old enough to die for our country, they should be able to smoke tobacco and also drink alcohol. If cigarettes are so addictive, why is it legal? It is very well documented on the number of deaths every year directly linked to smoking tobacco. So if it is our health that you are worried about Ann Coody, gradually increasing the age to 21 will not solve the problem. So unless you are just trying to justify your job, why don't you write a constructive bill to put some of the umemployed back to work in this state. I'm sure there are some people in this state receiving government assistance which do not need it, some of which are only collecting benefits to prevent foreclosure on their homes and put food on the table. How about a bill to require drug testing to welfare recipients? Or regulations which will not allow welfare recipients to use their government assistance to buy alcohol or other non essential products? Until then, I will promise to GRADUALLY lose interest in you and your dumbfounded ideas.

PocketRocket1 - 2/15/2012 9:49 AM
0 Votes
No matter what the age limit for buying tabacco is... if someone wants to smoke they are going to smoke no matter what the government, other people or whoever else says.... why change something thats been this way for so long.. people 18 and over are adults and if they want to smoke the should be allowed to smoke...
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