Senate Bill 1308 — Age to buy tobacco

Senate Bill 1308 — Age to buy tobacco

by
Lindsay Atkinson
February 12, 2020
Lindsay Atkinson
February 12, 2020

Bill description: SB 1308 would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Rating: -1

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? 

Idahoans live in a complex system whereby the government tells us when we reach the next stage of progressing to adulthood. Both the Idaho government and the U.S. government give us permission, at certain ages, to complete certain tasks.

For instance, we are told that we can ride in a car without a car seat when we are 7 years old. We have to be 14 ½ to obtain a driver’s permit. At 16, we can drop out of school. We can enlist in the military at age 18, and we are able to consent to sexual activity. At 21, we can consume alcohol. And at 30, we can run for certain elected positions, like governor.

We have, then, a scattered system whereby individuals have to reach certain ages to get permission from the government to act as adults. And SB 1308 would expand and complicate this system by raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. 

One of the stated reasons for this change is to comply with the recent changes made at the federal level. But the simple truth about the U.S. system of drug laws is that state government need not comply. We see that truth played out with marijuana laws, whereby laws are different from state to state compared to federal code.

The major impact of passing SB 1308 would be the fines and penalties it imposes on Idahoans who are just acting as adults, making their own choices about their habits and their bodies. If this bill passes, for example, any individual aged 20 found to possess tobacco would be fined $17.50. If that same individual is found to be selling tobacco or using a fake identity to purchase it, they would be fined $200. And subsequent offenses would lead to a misdemeanor charge for that individual and up to 30 days in jail, and/or a $300 fine. 

Analyst’s Note: Only 19 states and Washington, D.C., had changed their age requirement for purchasing tobacco before the federal change, so the federal change is effectively influencing a majority of states (31 states) to conform to a new and more restrictive age requirement.

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