Attorney General Ferguson wants to raise legal smoking to 21 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Attorney General Ferguson wants to raise legal smoking to 21

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NBCRightNow.com - Washington State could soon be the first to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a bill Wednesday that is sponsored by members of the house and the Senate. 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he wants to continue the tradition of attorney generals before him and lead the way when it comes to protecting our youth from the dangers of tobacco.

The bill would make tobacco product sales including vapors to anyone under 21 a civil offense. 

Ferguson's office says smoking kills 8,300 Washingtonians every year and can be attributed to $2.8 million in health care costs in the state. 

He says research shows the brain is still developing between the ages of 18 to 21 and more than a quarter of smokers start using tobacco daily during those years.

Utah, Colorado and New Jersey had similar bills proposed that ultimately did not pass,  but some other states including Alabama and Alaska did raise the legal smoking age to 19. 

A number of other cities have banned the use of tobacco under 21 and they have seen their teen smoking rates decline.

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