The 2023 legislative session began on January 9th, and we have wrapped up the second week of session. We're excited to share our top three priorities for this session:
Commercial Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding
Last year, Washington State invested $5 million for commercial tobacco prevention and cessation state funding, which is a small fraction of the $72.5 million recommendation by the CDC. This year, Rep. Paul Harris has agreed to sponsor a higher appropriations request for $15 million a year. This will help continue to rebuild the system that help keeps people from starting use of nicotine products and helping those who are ready to quit.
SB 5365 / HB 1497 - Preventing use of vapor and tobacco products by minors
In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed Tobacco to 21 legislation raising the legal purchase age to 21. That legislation omitted penalties for commercial tobacco use and possession on those ages 18-20 years old. SB 5365 extends this decriminalization of tobacco and vape use or possession to all people under age 21. Youth are better served by community-based interventions, which are more effective in helping them quit. Furthermore, this bill will significantly increase penalties for retailers if they sell to those under the legal age.
HB 1238 / SB 5339 - Providing free school meals for all
As we know, children can learn and play better when they have access to food. Washington has worked hard to improve access to school meals and reduce childhood hunger. However, there are still quite a few children who face food insecurity, which disproportionately impacts low-income students and students of color. This bill will offer school breakfast and lunch to ALL students at no cost and will help ensure that children have the nutrition they need to grow and thrive at school and beyond.
We will be in touch as these bills start to move and ask for your help to get them to the Governor's desk.
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