Pa. lawmakers open up to raising tobacco purchase age

In this 2015 photo, several brands of cigarettes are on display at a Smoker Friendly shop in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

In this 2015 photo, several brands of cigarettes are on display at a Smoker Friendly shop in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

A bill that would raise Pennsylvania’s tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21 has breezed through the state Senate — and there’s evidence it’ll get a warm reception in the House, too.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have floated bills to raise the age for buying tobacco products. But it is the first time one has made it through a chamber in at least a decade.

Only six of the Senate’s 49 members voted against the current effort — five Republicans and a Democrat.

In floor debate, one of the no-voters, Dauphin County Republican John DiSanto, argued 18-year-olds are legally considered adults, and should be allowed to smoke if they want to.

Bill sponsor Mario Scavello, a Monroe County Republican, countered that older teenagers might be more likely to give tobacco to younger ones.

“By delaying it, you’re really delaying a decision that that young man or young lady might not make in the future,” he said.

A similar measure was also introduced in the House, and a spokesman for that chamber says they’re still looking at it, but like the idea.

Governor Wolf also said Wednesday that he “could support” Scavello’s bill.

Eighteen other states have set 21 as the minimum age for tobacco purchases.

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