Arkansas bill on smoking age, cancer center funding advances

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) The Arkansas Senate has approved legislation that raises the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21 and increases some cigarette taxes for a cancer center.The Senate on Tuesday approved by a 22-10 vote the House-backed measure, which raises the minimum age from 18 to 21 by 2021. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he supports the legislation.

Online records reflect Senators Missy Irvin of Mountain View and Breanne Davis of Russellville among the 22 supporting the bill, while the third member of the North Central Senate delegation, Scott Flippo of Bull Shoals, voted against the measure.

The legislation increases some cigarette taxes and dedicates an existing tax on medical marijuana to pay for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' efforts to obtain a national designation for its Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

The bill also prevents cities and counties from regulating tobacco more strictly than the state. The bill heads back to the House for a final vote.

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