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The legal age to purchase tobacco would gradually rise from 18 to 21 in Oklahoma under a bill proposed by state legislators. The age limit would rise to 19 in 2013, 20 in 2014, and 21 in 2015.

“The younger someone starts smoking, the harder it is to break the addiction later in life,” State Representative Ann Coody, who sponsored the bill, said in a news release. “By raising the age restriction on tobacco purchases, we can deter many young people from ever starting this bad habit and save them years of health complications.”

Under current state law, anyone age 18 or older can purchase tobacco products, according to

The bill passed out of the House Public Health Committee this week, and will now go to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

If the bill becomes law, it would make Oklahoma the first state to increase the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. According to the Food and Drug Administration, as of March 2010, Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, and Utah had established 19 years of age as the minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco products.

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