Assembly minority leader Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, on
Sunday urged fellow lawmakers to raise the age for purchasing all tobacco and
vaping products from 18 to 21.
Wheeler, who started smoking at age 14, said simply the bill
would save lives. He said the data shows that those who start smoking before
they’re 21 are much more likely to be smokers for life.
“And again, I’m living proof of that,” he said.
He said he doesn’t want his children smoking or their
Wheeler was joined by Assemblywoman Melissa Hardy of Las
Vegas who said 16 states and the District of Columbia now require people to be
21 to buy tobacco products. She said the change aligns the age with
requirements to buy liquor and other adult products.
Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, D-Las Vegas, suggested an amendment to raise the age one year each year for the next three years to account for those 18-year-old smokers who would suddenly find it illegal for them to have tobacco products, which Wheeler said was “a terrific idea.”
The only opposition to the bill came from lobbyist Peter
Kreuger who represents the Cigar Association. He said they oppose AB544 because
it comes with just 30 hours left in the legislative session and there isn’t
time to properly vet it.
Several other speakers in neutral positions also said the
bill needs to be properly vetted, possibly during the interim, then brought
back in the 2021 session.
Lawmakers were told there is also a bill working its way
through Congress to raise the age for purchasing all such products to 21 across