The House Appropriations committee approves legislation that would raise the legal age to smoke from 18 to 21 years old. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffman says his goal is to prevent young people from smoking, which he says will reduce health care costs for the state.

“This is a health issue, a simple and tremendously important concept, it will reduce deaths, save money in the long run, big money and make life better for many,” said Hoffman.

The legislation will also prohibit the sale of vaping products to those under the age of 21. New Orleans vape shop owner Victoria Wood says it’s a bad bill, because there are no repercussions for those between 18 to 21 who try to purchase tobacco or vaping products.

“Why are we not holding the youth as accountable as we are holding the adults, when I was 15-16-years-old, got in trouble, I had to fess up and pay the consequences for it,” said Wood.

This legislation heading to the House floor contains several exemptions. Military personnel, law enforcement and first responders between the ages of 18-21 would still be able purchase tobacco products. If you turn 18 before December 31st, you will also be exempted. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says the proposed law is too complicated and burdensome on businesses.

“I just think this bill is so convoluted right now that you need to think about the fiscal note of the private sector that is having to deal with it,” said Harris.

The bill heads to the House floor, where it might be difficult to get the 53 votes needed to pass.

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