1. Raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21;
2. Increase funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs; and
3. Tax electronic smoking devices to reduce youth use and fund tobacco prevention programs.
Washington's legislative bodies continue to struggle with budget challenges, in particular finding solutions to adequately fund education due to a court ruling finding the state negligent in providing adequate funding. The budget shortfalls continue to be an obstacle in securing adequate program funding for tobacco prevention efforts and cessation support.
Working together with coalition partners, the American Lung Association in Washington supported and celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 6328, "Concerning vapor products in respect to youth substance use prevention," during the 1st special legislative session in 2016. Advocates fought diligently to get the best possible bill to protect Washington's youth. The bill establishes important youth access protections for electronic cigarettes and provides more meaningful enforcement and penalties for those selling both tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to kids. The bill raised tobacco licensing fees and doubles fines for violations of tobacco sales laws. It also requires electronic cigarette retailers and other entities to get licenses. It was the first increase in 23 years to tobacco product licensing fees and penalties, and the dollars raised will pay for tobacco and e-cigarette enforcement, prevention and education efforts.
Bills were introduced to raise the age of sale for cigarettes to 21 in both the House and the Senate. Despite broad support for this legislation, neither bill moved to the floors for a vote.
Prior to the 2017 legislative session, a growing and strong coalition worked to provide strong support for another run to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Washington's Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, is a strong supporter of the policy as is Washington's Secretary of Health, John Weisman. Building on the support from the 2016 session, the Lung Association will again work to pass this legislation.
The American Lung in Washington will also continue to seek opportunities to secure funding for tobacco prevention programs and cessation support.