Bill to raise smoking age draws mixed reaction in W.Va.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A West Virginia legislative bill passed the health committee Tuesday and heads to the judiciary committee next.

If approved, the bill would not allow anyone under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco, including vapor products. Some West Virginia senators, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, have pushed for this bill because the smoking activity in West Virginia is one of the worst in the country.

Takubo says the West Virginia overall health care from smoking is an estimated $1 billion.

Justin and Melissa Swinson, who own the New Found Vapes shop in Charleston, say their sales would be affected by this new law, but they’re still in favor of it. Justin says he doesn’t like when kids smoke just to look cool, he says he is in this business for the adults who really want to quit other harmful tobacco products. Melissa Swinson says vapes are considered tobacco products because they contain varying degrees of tobacco content.

College student Harrison Bell says vaping is getting out of hand, but he is still for the bill.

“The vaping industry has just skyrocketed in the last couple years," Bell said. "It's so easy to get your hands on and then the fruity flavors are attracting the young kids. I'd say like three or four years ago, I could probably count the number of my friends that smoked any kind of nicotine product on one hand but now I could probably count the ones that don't on one hand."

The bill, if passed, will come into effect 90 days after it's approved.

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