SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Utah have approved a bill that would raise the state's smoking age from 19 to 21, officials said.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved SB12 in a 4-1 vote Thursday, despite opponents of the bill arguing that adults should be allowed to buy legal products, The Salt Lake City Tribune reported.
Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, who sponsored the bill, amended it so the law won't take effect until July 1, 2016, so that smokers who are currently 19 or 20 years old can turn 21 before the change.
Dave Davis, president of the Utah Food Industry Association/Utah Retail Merchants Association, argued the bill is "not a youth-protection bill. It will prevent folks we have determined are legal adults from getting access to a legal product."
He also alleged that raising the legal age for smoking could create a "slippery slope" to government bans of high-calorie foods to prevent obesity or motorcycle riding by youths to prevent injuries.
Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, said the difference is that those activities only affect the person doing them, while "smoking affects many people around then. We need to draw a line where it is such an obvious public health issue."