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Congress to look at raising smoking age to 21

TUCSON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the national effort to get a bill passed in Congress that would raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

12 states have already changed the law.

Palmer Demara manages Havana Smoke Shop in midtown.

“I really started smoking around 17, maybe,” Demara said.

Demara worries if this goes national, it could severely hurt his bottom line.

“U of A is like our main money source here in Tucson,” he said. A lot of out of state students come here and so when like those people who you advertise to you can’t sell to them anymore, it affects us.

The city of Tucson has already looked at raising the smoking age.

“These are lifelong impacts from a health standpoint that not only will affect you today and tomorrow, but they’ll affect your situation in life forever,” City Councilman Steve Kozachik said.

Kozachik would back the move, but he wonders how it could be policed in a city that’s already thin on manpower.

“The reality is we don’t have those resources right now,” Kozachik said. “Who wouldn’t agree that the smoking age should be 21. The problem is enforcement and we don’t have the public safety resources to be running to all the Circle K’s in town or whoever sells cigarettes and make sure they’re not selling to minors.”

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