The 2016 legislative session has started and things are moving quickly. A bill to raise the tobacco and electronic smoking device purchase age to 21, House Bill 2313, which the American Heart Association is supporting received its first hearing in the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee on January 21st.
During the hearing, AHA volunteers also participated in a press conference held by the Attorney General on this legislation. Numerous health organizations including the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association also participated.
Four bills were heard in the committee on the 21st with HB 2313 being last. Our dedicated volunteer Eric Rothenberg testified in support of the bill. Because the bill was heard last not everyone who signed in to testify was able to but Eric did a great job representing the AHA. Overall, the majority of those in attendance at the committee hearing testified in support.
On Friday February 29th the bill was formally voted on by the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee passing with a vote of 9 ayes.
As of today, February 8, when this post is being written we are still hoping for a hearing in the Appropriations Committee which is necessary for the bill to progress through the House. On Friday, February 5, the Senate version of the legislation died when it failed to get a vote in committee.
The American Heart Association believes HB 2313 is an important piece of legislation that will drive down smoking rates in Washington. In fact it was the focus of our annual lobby day this year on February 9th.
We hope that this issue will receive the necessary hearing and votes to keep progressing during the 2016 legislative session and that we can count on your support. Please keep your eyes open for our emails on the issue and take action when we call upon you to message your lawmakers.