Legislation increasing the age at which people can purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 passed the Nevada Senate on Monday on a split vote.
The measure was approved 14-7 with all but one Democrat in support.
Sen. Pat Spearman of Las Vegas opposed AB59, saying servicemen and women are more likely to use tobacco because of the stress they are under in military operations.
“If you can be ordered to go into war and get killed, you should be able to make up your mind about smoking,” she said.
She called for an exemption on military bases and overseas.
Republican Sen. Ira Hansen of Sparks made similar comments.
“I’m totally opposed to tobacco use,” he said. “But 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds can vote, get married, join the military. I think we’re being big brother with this. They certainly have the right to determine whether they want to use tobacco products.”
Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, a smoker, termed the bill ridiculous.
“You can go to prison, fight a war, buy a house,” he said.
But Brooks said he and some other members are in a position where they must approve the law because it is mandated by federal law approved during the Trump administration.
“It’s completely inconsistent how we treat humans as adult,” he said.
Las Vegas Democrat Melanie Scheible said the bill puts Nevada in compliance with that law but that she does agree with some of the comments made against it.
Democrats were joined by three Republicans in supporting AB59: Ben Kieckhefer and Heidi Seevers Gansert of Reno and Keith Pickard of Las Vegas.
The bill prohibits the sale of any and all tobacco products to anyone under 21 as well as products that go along with tobacco use including cigarette papers.
The bill goes to the governor’s desk.