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Revised Tobacco to 21 Bill Finds More Support Among Health Organizations

A bill that would raise the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products to 21 passed a Senate committee Wednesday. It features amendments that have quieted some criticisms from health advocates. 

The tobacco bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. It originally threatened to limit substance abuse funding to states that did not raise the age to purchase tobacco.

Groups like the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids opposed the state condition, saying that it would allow tobacco lobbyists to influence state legislation.

Kaine says that it was intended to ensure that the law was enforced both federally and on the state level.

“There was a general acceptance of the goal, but a belief that maybe the way we were proposing it could have an unintended consequence,” says Kaine.

The new version of the legislation raises the national tobacco sale age to 21 regardless of what state legislatures do. States can still be penalized for failing to comply with inspections and reporting requirements.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has since announced its full support of the bill.

*A story published earlier this week incorrectly stated that the bill required states to pass their own laws raising the tobacco purchase age.

*Updated June 28 at 12:56 p.m.

*This story was reported by WCVE News intern Patrick Larsen.

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