Lawmakers passed a bill that would raise the state's minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21.

The Public Health Committee met on Monday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The committee passed the bill S.B. No. 164," which is an act raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. It's currently 18.

“Personally, I’ve been smoking for along time and I wish the legal age was raised so I didn’t start smoking," said Shania Garrow, of Southbury.

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Now that it has passed, it will go to the General Assembly for both the state House of Representatives and state Senate to vote.

Connecticut would become the 7th state to raise the legal age.

According to the American Cancer Society, in CT, nearly 5,000 people die every year from smoking-related illnesses. That's about 13 people a day.

The association a so said 56,000 children who are alive today will die prematurely because of tobacco use.

This bill would impose penalties for dealers or distributors who fail to comply starting with fines and leading to their license being suspended or revoked.

“There’s a long way to go but we are very encouraged that the committee sees the public health benefits in increasing the sale age,” said Brite Johnson, of the American Cancer Association.

The bill was first introduced by Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury.

The change would happen for not only cigarettes, but other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

According to the American Heart/American Stroke Association, "Over 70% of MA, and over 60% of New York state have increased the sales age to 21. Over 290 localities, including New York City, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland have increased the tobacco sales age to 21.

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