Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Feb 12 2015

OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson today urged legislative action on bills to regulate vapor products and to raise the legal age for tobacco products to 21, citing new reports underscoring the danger of tobacco and other nicotine products.

A report released today in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests smoking is even worse for people’s health than previously known.
Researchers reviewed health data from nearly 1 million people over 10 years, and the results suggest smoking is the cause of at least 60,000 more deaths per year in the United States and five more diseases than previously understood.

Smoking was already known to kill nearly 500,000 Americans every year and cause 21 diseases, including 12 types of cancer.
Separately, Governor Jay Inslee today unveiled data showing that the use of nicotine vapor products among Washington’s 8th and 10th graders has risen to alarming levels.

“Taken together, these studies demonstrate the urgent need to do more to curb the nicotine epidemic,” Attorney General Ferguson said. “One of the ways we can do that is by moving tobacco and nicotine out of the pipeline that hooks new users in their teens, when their brains are unusually susceptible to nicotine addiction.”

“The benefits of keeping nicotine out of the hands of teens are obvious,” Ferguson added. “Ninety-five percent of adult smokers start before age 21, and the lifelong health complications and costs to both the individual and the taxpayer are enormous. I hope our Legislature reviews this new information very carefully as they consider a change in our legal smoking age and new restrictions on vapor products.”

In a news conference today to release the new “vaping” data, Governor Inslee also called on the Legislature to pass a bill regulating vapor products that he and the Attorney General have requested. Inslee also endorsed AG Ferguson’s proposed law to raise the legal smoking age to 21. That bill, SB 5494 in the Senate and HB 1458 in the House, received a hearing on February 11, 2015, before the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contacts:
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov