Roe Encourages Support of Bill to Limit Underage Tobacco Purchases

May 24, 2024
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Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, today urged Oklahomans to express their support of a bill to curb youth use of tobacco products.

House Bill 3331 would increase the fines for selling any tobacco product, nicotine product or vapor product to someone under 21. Current law only fines the clerk, whereas HB3331 would fine the business owner as well.

Roe, who has been a registered nurse for 41 years and a nurse practitioner for 24 years, said this change is necessary given the sharp increase in recent years in teenage tobacco use. The use of these products, including vaping, is linked to numerous health issues.

According to the most recently available data from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), 21.7% of Oklahoma youth reported they had used a vaping product in the last 30 days. The national rate is about 10%. In that same survey, 8.5% of Oklahoma youth used vapes at least 20 out of the last 30 days.

"By making it harder for children to access these products that are already illegal for them to purchase, we can save them from a lifetime of health concerns," Roe said. "Fines and fees are nothing compared to the tens of thousands of dollars an Oklahoman may spend throughout their life on health issues that arose because of tobacco use that started as a teenager."

Roe said, given that around 90% of current tobacco users started before age 18, preventing youth from starting vape or tobacco use is key. She urged Oklahomans to reach out to their state legislators to encourage their support of HB3331.

"With our deadline to adjourn sine die quickly approaching, we need to take action now to curb the tobacco epidemic among our youth," Roe said. "We cannot afford to wait any longer to take substantive action. Every day that we delay House Bill 3331, we risk more of Oklahoma's children becoming shackled to a lifelong tobacco addiction."

HB3331, which was amended in the conference committee process, is now eligible to be considered again on the House floor. The measure would need final approval from both chambers before moving to the governor's desk. The Legislature's deadline to adjourn sine die is Friday, May 31.

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