DENVER -- Colorado lawmakers shot down a push to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21. With the move, Colorado joins Utah, Maryland and Vermont as states that have rejected proposals in favor of the hike.
The Colorado House Finance Committee defeated the proposal by a 7-6 vote. State Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-District 3) cast the deciding vote against the measure. He argued 18-year-olds are adults who should be persuaded not to smoke, not banned from smoking, according to The Associated Press.
"Do we tell them, you may not do this, we're going to stop them? Or do we urge them to take responsibility for their actions and treat them like adults?" Kagan asked. "I come down on the side of treating 18-to-20-year-olds like adults."
Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-District 2) also opposed the bill. He didn't vote on the committee that rejected the measure, but his public hesitancy may have influenced the committee, the news outlet reported.
"I think the conversation on smoking and how we make sure that we protect our kids is an important conversation. As of right now, I do not support the bill. But there is division within both my caucus and the Republican caucus on that," Ferrandino told reporters before the vote.
Though the move to increase the legal age to buy tobacco products has been spreading across the country -- notably in New York City and Hawaii County -- some lawmakers are questioning enacting measures.
Last week, the Vermont House Human Services Committee rejected a bid to boost the age from 18 to 21. Additionally, a similar proposal before the Utah State Senate failed by a 12-to-16 vote in early March, as CSNews Online previously reported. In addition, Maryland legislators reviewed a similar proposal earlier this year, but also rejected it.
Bills to hike the age to 21 are pending in state legislatures in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey.