Colorado and Utah Eye Older Smoking Age

Lawmkers are working to increase the age requirement to 21

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Two states are considering plans to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, in an effort to thwart teen smoking.

Lawmakers in Utah and Colorado both voted Thursday to move forward on legislation to lift the age requirement, the Associated Press reports. Bills in both states still have to make it through more votes.

Utah, which already prevents tobacco purchases for those under 19, has the nation’s lowest smoking rate, the AP reports. Colorado also has a low smoking rate; about 18 percent of the state’s residents smoked in 2011. Yet lawmakers in both are eager to further prevent young people from picking up the  habit.

Similar bills are being considered in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey. New York City has already increased the purchase age to 21. Nine out of 10 smokers had their first cigarette by 18, and 90 percent of cigarettes for minors were bought by those between 18 and 20, according to a report from the Annals of Internal Medicine.