Bill would raise the age to buy tobacco to 21

Lucas Jackson—Reuters
Newport and Camel cigarettes are stacked on a shelf inside a convenience store.

RALEIGH — A new bill in the N.C. legislature would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), who is also a physician, would raise the age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products in N.C. to 21 years old. Current state law is 18 years old.”Over 90 percent of smokers become addicted prior to the age of 21 and recently North Carolina ranked second in the country in people aged 18-25 who used tobacco products for the first time,” said Murphy. “While we still acknowledge the personal right to smoke, it is time we got tobacco products out of the hands of our youth and help them lead longer and healthier lives.”The measure also includes raising the age limits on cigarette wrapping papers and vapor products. It makes an exception for people age 18 to 20 who are serving in the armed forces. Co-sponsors of the measure include Reps. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham), Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) and Holly Grange (R-New Hanover).Lobbying efforts to raise the minimum age for tobacco began in earnest in 2005 and have led mostly municipalities to enact higher age limits with 220 cities passing them across the country. Hawaii and California raised the tobacco age to 21 in recent years. Currently in N.C. a law passed in 2013 to ensure statewide uniformity prevents local governments from making their own ordinances governing the sale of tobacco and tobacco-derived products.