Louisiana lawmakers carve out exemptions in smoking age bill
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A bid to increase Louisiana's legal smoking age from 18 to 21 narrowly escaped the House budget committee, but only after lawmakers added a long list of exemptions to the proposal.
House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry broke a tie to keep the bill from being bottled up in committee. It advances to the full House for debate. Still, the measure only won passage after lawmakers exempted people in the military, law enforcement and first responders from the age boost.
The legislation also would exempt anyone who turns 18 before Dec. 31. Republican Rep. Frank Hoffmann says his proposal would save lives and cut health costs. Critics say the exemptions are burdensome to business. Anti-smoking groups say the bill doesn't go far enough to curb smoking.