During this past legislative session, which ended on June 7, one of our priorities was to increase the tobacco sales age in CT to 21.
The bill made it relatively easily out of the Public Health committee. The bill next went to the Finance committee, which predicted that if passed, it would result in significant lost revenue to the state. In a year in which CT faces a +$5B budget deficit, this was more than enough to slow down the momentum. Additionally, some legislators were not comfortable with the bill impacting members in the military.
To get the bill out of the Finance Committee, we had to reluctantly agree to “grandfathering” 18-20-year-olds, which would avoid the potential lost revenue to the current two-year state budget, as well as to exempt members of the military. Although we certainly would like ALL CT residents to enjoy the health benefits of increasing the sales age to 21, it was necessary to agree to these changes, or the bill would have died in committee.
The bill did make it out of the Finance committee, however it eventually died without being called for a vote before the session ended. We, along with our advocates and volunteers, look forward to fighting this fight again during the 2018 legislative session, which begins in February.