Push to raise smoking age gets help from Scott administration

Published: Feb. 15, 2019 at 4:43 PM EST
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An effort to raise the smoking age in Vermont is getting some help from the Scott administration.

A yearslong effort by some health advocates to raise the smoking age has always come up short. But Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine testified this week in favor of the idea. And Gov. Phil Scott says he's not opposed to raising the smoking age but won't be spearheading the effort.

The subtle shift from the governor has advocates hoping for progress this year.

Stephanie Winters with the Vermont Medical Society says raising the age can help reduce youth smoking and prevent adult smokers.

"Vermont physicians are so appreciative of the governor's and the administration's understanding that this is a really important issue and a really important strategy to prevent youth tobacco use," Winters said.

"I'm not a smoker myself, never have been, and I see the dangers of smoking and vaping and so forth. So, I'm not opposed to it but I'm not leading the charge," said Scott, R-Vermont.

The House has previously passed legislation to raise the age but it stalled in the Senate.