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Assembly OKs raising Wisconsin smoking age from 18 to 21

MADISON — No one under 21 would be allowed to purchase cigarettes or vaping products under a bill the state Assembly approved Thursday.

Currently a person must be at least 18 to purchase cigarettes, tobacco, nicotine or vaping products.

President Donald Trump signed a law last year that bars tobacco sales to anyone under 21 but local police can’t enforce it since it’s a federal law. The Wisconsin bill would allow local law enforcement to enforce the new minimum age by placing it in state law.

The measure’s chief Assembly sponsor, Republican John Spiros, left vaping products out of the bill but amended it on the Assembly floor to include them. He said on the floor that the federal law’s definition of tobacco products including vaping products and he wants state law to conform fully to the federal statutes.

Spiros took plenty of heat for leaving vaping products out of the bill. Sixteen groups led by the American Heart Association sent an email to legislators on Monday urging them to reinsert vaping products in the bill, saying the products can cause cancer and lung disease and exempting them would confuse police.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that chamber may consider the bill on its final session day in March.

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