Colorado legislators consider bill to raise age for buying cigarettes

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DENVER — If your child is smoking he or she likely got the cigarettes from an older friend or sibling. That’s why Colorado lawmakers want to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.

Many kids in Colorado start smoking in middle and high school because they have easy access to cigarettes.

The American Lung Association testified at a hearing Thursday that young people in Colorado start smoking at an average of age 12.

“Mostly what the bill will do is it will take cigarettes out of high schools … if you have to be 21 you don’t have a lot of 21-year-olds that are still in high school,” says bill sponsor Cheri Gerou.

Under the new law, first time offenders would face a fine of $100 or they could pay off the fine through community service and tobacco education classes.

Businesses caught selling to those under 21 would face a $1,500 fine and possibly lose their license.

Convenience stores are lobbying against the bill. They say it will cut deeply into their profits.

The new law would not impact people who are already 18 and can legally buy tobacco products.

The bill is expected to make it to the full House for a vote.