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Maine Lawmakers Consider Raising Smoking Age To 21

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Mark Lennihan
/
AP

The state Senate has supported legislation on a 31-4 vote, phasing in an increase in the legal age to buy and use tobacco to 21.

Sen. Paul Davis, a Republican from Sangerville, sponsored the bill.

“It's peer pressure that controls people smoking. I believe that, especially when they are young. When they are in high school they want to be like the other boys, the other girls. They pick it up. It’s peer pressure," said Davis.

The legislation was amended to phase in the higher minimum age over a few years by allowing those who turn 18 by July 1 of next year to buy tobacco products. That was to reduce the price tag on the bill to $160,000 in the second year of the state budget.

Opponents argued there are many young adults that are quite capable of making their own decision about smoking.

“The narrative that some time exists that younger adults are children, incapable of making the same decisions for themselves, decisions that all other adult Maine people are allowed to make for themselves, without nanny government, is frankly insulting,” said Republican Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn.