Vt. House approves raising smoking age to 21

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont is poised to raise the legal smoking age to 21 this year. The House voted 124 to 14 Tuesday in favor of raising the smoking age.

Health advocates have lobbied lawmakers for years to make the change without success. But there was a dramatic spike last year in the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers and that motivated lawmakers to act this year.

After a second vote, the bill will go back to the Senate, which already approved the measure earlier this year. Health Advocates say teenagers often access tobacco products from older classmates, but raising the age will cut down on that access and prevent addiction.

"I think this is a huge step for Vermont's youth. We're so excited for today. This is part of a comprehensive plan we had going into this. A three-legged stool -- raise the sale age, make it more expensive, restrict access -- and we are thrilled to take this huge step to protect youth," said Jennifer Costa with the American Cancer Society.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said he will support the bill, ensuring it will become law.