Officials hope raised smoking age curbs tobacco/vaping by youth

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Wyoming is on a wait-see for new state law

EVANSTON — As part of a sweeping spending bill, President Donald Trump recently signed a new minimum age requirement for tobacco purchases into law. Just before Christmas, the age to buy tobacco products was raised to 21 everywhere in the country.

But according to Sgt. Brooke Hale, Uinta County Sheriff’s Office, Wednesday this law is currently not being enforced in Uinta County by the Sheriff’s Department. At this point, the decision in “now a personal decision by business owners if they want to enforce this new federal change on the age of 21 for smoking. She added, the County does not have the say in the municipalities as their governing bodies determine what is included within the municipal’s limits.

After the Pioneer and the Jim Bridger Trading Post contacted the Sheriff’s Office for guidance on this issue, the UC County Sheriff’s Office provided a press released. It stated although the federal law had been passed, the official stance in Wyoming was: “This means, under federal law, it is now illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess any tobacco products. However, state law enforcement officers, Uinta County Sheriff’s Office deputies, cannot enforce federal law. We can only enforce Wyoming State law. Wyoming law currently allows people ages 18 and older to purchase tobacco products. Governor Gordon would have to sign legislation which had to pass the House and Senate changing the legal age from 18 to 21 before it could become state law and enforceable. There is currently a bill in legislation that was advanced back in September by Wyoming State Lawmakers to do exactly that. If passed, it would not go into effect until latter part of 2020.”

Tuesday night, and according to Katie Johnson of the clerk’s office, the town had not yet addressed the age change.

Lyman town clerk Lisa Bradshaw said Wednesday Lyman had not addressed the age change. In fact, she said no one had even brought it up at this point.

As for the two school districts in Bridger Valley, officials say there have been minimal problems. Mountain View, during first semester hosted a seminar in which students, parents and interested members of the community were educated on vaping.

Damien Smith, Lyman superintendent, said Wednesday morning, the Lyman district is hosting two seminars on Jan. 23. According t Justin Smith, LIS principal, the one at the high school will be from 11 a.m. to noon and the other at LIS from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. The seminars will be presented by Matt Horton, a member of the county’s health department. Horton is the one who presented the seminar at Mountain View. Smith said, anyone in the Valley can attend either of the seminars.

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