Oklahoma Examines Raising Tobacco Age

Bill to incrementally raise legal age passes House Public Health Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY --A bill that would gradually make Oklahoma the first state to raise its legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 has passed out of a House committee. The House Public Health Committee approved the bill with a 7-5 vote last week, and it is slated for review in the full House.

HB 2314 incrementally increases the age limit for an individual to buy, possess, be sold or be given tobacco to age 19 after Nov. 1, 2013, age 20 after Nov. 1, 2014, and age 21 after Nov. 1, 2015.

Rep. Ann Coody (R.-Lawton), who sponsored the bill, said a handful of states have increased the legal age to purchase tobacco to 19, but that Oklahoma would be the first to increase the age to 21, according to the Associated Press.

The bill would not apply to tribal smoke shops, prompting concerns of a potentially unfair advantage.

Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for Tulsa-based QuikTrip Corp. told local radio station, KMRG, that if new legislation is fair and across the board, businesses can handle the change.

He said, “We may not like it, but we can operate in that environment. But, Oklahoma business is really kind of getting tired of these double standards.”

According to a News on 6 report, Coody said that her desire in bringing the proposal to the floor was to save lives. “I certainly don't want to hurt business” she said. “I don't want to hurt convenience stores; I don't want to hurt anybody.”