WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie says he will introduce a bill on Tuesday to increase the minimum age to purchase and possess tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill would also ban retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone younger than 21.
"Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 will decrease access to cigarettes, and, more importantly, may decrease the rate of smoking in young adults," said McDuffie in a written statement.
This bill follows the news that the New York City Council approved raising the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Seven years ago, Needham, Massachusetts raised its smoking age to 21 and, according to officials, the rate of self-reported tobacco use by high school students there declined significantly since the law was passed.
D.C.'s previous tobacco-reform efforts include going smoke-free indoor workplaces in 2006, and passing a bill in October 2013 prohibiting smoking in parks and bus shelters.
"We have an obligation to stay on the leading edge of smoking prevention strategies here in the District. By restricting tobacco sales to young people, we can prevent many of our youth from acquiring a terrible, deadly addiction. Research shows that delaying access to tobacco products is an effective means of long-term smoking prevention," said McDuffie in a written statement.