A proposal to raise the age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products appears to be going nowhere in Montpelier.
Two bills aimed at raising the purchase age from 18 to 21 got the thumbs-down from the House Human Services Committee Tuesday.
Instrumental in the vote was testimony from Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, who says people aged 18-20 are adults and should be able to decide for themselves.
"Everybody wants to lower our smoking rates. I'm certainly there and everybody in my department does, but I think in the end if you are going to compel behavior in adults or prohibit behavior in adults, I think there needs to be a really good reason for that," Chen said.
Chen cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that found anti-smoking efforts are best aimed at education and cessation programs. One of the bills would have added an exemption for those in the armed forces. But both failed in committee.