TN lawmakers introduce bills to raise smoking, vaping age to 19

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Two Tennessee lawmakers are looking to change the smoking and vaping age in the Volunteer state.

State lawmakers Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Dyersburg) and Rep. Darren Jernigan (D-Nashville) are backing the bill that would raise the age for using cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products from 18 to 19.

"I think it's a good thing," Whatever Smoke Shop manager Rick Terry said. "When people turn 18, they like to bring their underage friends in our shop and we're required to ID everybody."

In fact, he thinks it wouldn't hurt to make the age limit even higher.

"I would think if they're going to raise the age, they might as well raise it to 21," Terry said.

Some opponents of the bill feel raising the age won't do anything to encourage people to quit smoking.

Ian Tallent, 19, said he vapes from time to time and changing the age doesn't make sense.

"If you're going to try kids who just turned 18 as an adult then you should be able to vape, because it's not as bad as smoking actual cigarettes," he said. "It's the same thing as 16-year-olds getting cigarettes. They just ask someone who's older who doesn't care."

Tennessee Smoke Free Association released a statement saying in part: "There is no scientific evidence or data that suggests raising the age of purchase would deter youth from initiating use. In fact, the CDC and FDA both have stated that the average smoker starts at age 13."

Many people have said e-cigarettes help people quit smoking; others contest vaping is actually a gateway to smoking.

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