Washington is poised to raise the legal age for smoking from 18 years to 21 years. A new bill backed by the State Attorney General proposes this measure, which aims to decrease the rate of smokers.

On Wednesday, Jan. 21, Attorney General Bob Ferguson backed the bill that looks to increase the minimum smoking age requirement applicable to smokers of e-cigarettes and tobacco.

If the proposed legislation is enacted, then the legal age for buying tobacco-based products would be at par with the legal drinking age in the state, which is also 21. The measure looks to reduce access of teenagers to cigarettes and lower healthcare expenses.

Needham in Massachusetts was the first city to introduce the law in 2005, which saw the smoking rate drop from 13.5 percent in 2006 to 5.5 percent in 2012.

"Research shows the young adult brain, still developing between 18 and 21, is highly susceptible to nicotine addiction," said Ferguson in a statement. "We must do more to protect our youth from tobacco's grip, and this bill is an important step toward keeping nicotine out of the hands of kids and young adults."

Ferguson also revealed that based on federal data, over 90 percent of smokers started out in their teens and developed the habit over the years. Smoking accounts for 8,300 deaths in Washington and results in health costs of $2.8 billion.

However, the proposed measure is anticipated to cost the state nearly $20 million every year.

Several cities in the U.S. have 21 years as the minimum legal smoking age. These include New York City, Hawaii County, and Suffolk County on Long Island, New York.

On the other hand, New Jersey, Alabama, Alaska, Washington D.C. and Utah require that users of tobacco are 19 years old or older. Most states in the U.S. have 18 years as the minimum legal age for smoking.

However, in the past, bills to increase the minimum smoking age to 21 years have failed in Utah, New Jersey and Colorado.

Democratic Representative Tina Orwall and Senator Mark Miloscia also echoed Ferguson's views but they fear opposition from colleagues as well as the tobacco industry.

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