Raising smoking age to 21 gets renewed push in Washington state

Supporters of a new bill hope that a Democratic majority in the Senate and the House will vote to raise the age required to purchase tobacco.

Cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to smoking-related illnesses hope the fourth time is the charm.

For the fourth straight year, Washington state lawmakers are debating a bill to raise the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21.

Past attempts have failed.

“This bill needs to pass,” said Eunice Hostetter, breast cancer survivor and Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

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Governor Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson are supportive of the legislation.

In recent years critics have said raising the purchase age would result in lower tax revenues for the state and others have questioned why someone who is old enough to be sent to war shouldn’t be able to buy cigarettes.

Ferguson has pointed out military members over 18 would still be able to purchase tobacco on military bases.

Jennifer Kampsula Wong’s father, Burno Kampsula, a lifelong-smoker died in 1993.

"On his death certificate, the first cause of death was tobacco. Not an illness, not a disease, but a product,” said Kampsula.

She met with lawmakers Tuesday trying to persuade them to pass the bill this year.