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Provo City may raise the legal smoking age if HB 324 doesn’t pass

PROVO — The Provo City Municipal Council wants to take the issue of legal smoking age in its own hands.

Currently, House Bill 324 is working its way through the Utah Legislature.  The bill would raise the age for purchasing any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, from 19 to 21 years of age.

But, if the bill does not pass, the Provo Council approved a measure to raise the legal age within their city limits.  Lehi and Cedar Hills already ban those under 21 from buying tobacco products and Provo would follow suit.

Only one council member, Kay Van Buren, voted against the measure, telling the Provo Herald he doesn’t believe the government should dictate how a person handles their own individual health choices.

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The other five council members issued the following statement:

We, the members of the Provo City Municipal Council, are in support of the measure to increase the minimum age for tobacco purchase proposed in House Bill 324 Second Substitute, and if the Utah State Legislature does not pass this measure, Provo City will consider following Lehi City and Cedar Hills by adopting a city ordinance to that effect. The Provo City Municipal Council supports the Second Substitute because it removes the language preempting relevant local ordinances that was introduced in the First Substitute and urges the Utah State Legislature not to include any such language in the final measure.

The decision to endorse HB 324 was supported by the council, saying $283 billion a year is spent on lost work productivity and on health care for those who smoke.  And one US study claims tobacco use contributes to 500,000 deaths per year; which is higher than opiate overdoses, car crashes and gun violence combined.