Friday April 19, 2019

Washington’s Governor Raises Smoking Age to 21 to Curb Addiction

Other US states that introduced similar laws include California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Oregon, in addition to the US Pacific territory of Guam and the District of Columbia

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Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has signed a bill into law raising the state’s smoking age to 21 years, making it the ninth in the country to introduce such legislation, officials said.

The new law, which was signed on Friday, raised the legal minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 years old to 21. It was passed in the Washington Senate on Wednesday and will take effect on January 1, 2020.

“We know the risks associated with tobacco and nicotine … We know how much easier it is to prevent our children from becoming addicted in the first place than to treat the addiction later in life, or even worse, to treat the cancers and diseases caused by these products,” Inslee said.

Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay
Other than chronic diseases, lifestyle habits like smoking causes cancer too. Pixabay

The Governor signed the bill in the presence of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, dozens of students, legislators and local health officials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, the largest city in the state, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ferguson, a strong advocate of the bill, said the legislature was “saving thousands of people in Washington from a lifetime of addiction and smoking-related illness through this bill”.

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Hawaii was the first US state to raise the smoking age to 21 when its Governor signed a bill in 2015 to ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 21. Hawaii’s law went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Other US states that introduced similar laws include California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Oregon, in addition to the US Pacific territory of Guam and the District of Columbia. (IANS)

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Wide Range of Global Challenges, G-7 Ministers Hope to Seal Commitments

Italy has also irked EU and U.S. allies by becoming the first G-7 member to sign up to a contentious Chinese plan to build a Silk Road-style global trade network, the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

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G-7 Countries
Participants of a G-7 ministerial meeting walk to have a group photo taken on the second day of their talks, in Dinard, France, April 6, 2019. VOA

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies were wrapping up a two-day meeting in the French seaside resort of Dinard on Saturday where they hope to seal joint commitments on a range of global challenges and lay the groundwork for August’s G-7 summit in Biarritz.

Diplomats from G-7 countries, which include the U.S., France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and the U.K., walked side-by-side against the rocky Atlantic coast backdrop and in the fresh Brittany air to project a united front before a working lunch. They hope to agree on a joint statement on the fight against trafficking drugs, arms and migrants in Africa’s troubled Sahel region, fighting cybercrime and stopping sexual violence against women in conflict zones, especially in Africa.

U.S.
Washington seems to be at odds with Italy over its stance on the crisis-hit South American country, being the sole G-7 member state to not back Guaido. VOA

But U.S. officials said that points of discord will also be discussed at the talks led by the host, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said that Washington will use the G-7 forum to galvanize support for Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who the U.S. has backed to lead the country into a “democratic transformation from the failed regime” of President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido has embarked on an international campaign to topple the socialist administration of Venezuela’s president amid deepening unrest in the country, which has been plagued by nearly a month of power outages.

Washington seems to be at odds with Italy over its stance on the crisis-hit South American country, being the sole G-7 member state to not back Guaido.

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They hope to agree on a joint statement on the fight against trafficking drugs, arms and migrants in Africa’s troubled Sahel region, fighting cybercrime and stopping sexual violence against women in conflict zones, especially in Africa. Pixabay

The U.S. and Canada have pursued a pro-active stance on widening support for Guaido, according to French officials. But there has already been widespread alarm after Guaido was stripped of immunity by Maduro loyalists earlier this week.

“With Juan Guaido being stripped of his immunity … we don’t want the situation to escalate,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Dinard on Saturday.

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“We are still of the opinion that free elections should take place during which Venezuelans can decide themselves who will lead the country,” he added.

Italy has also irked EU and U.S. allies by becoming the first G-7 member to sign up to a contentious Chinese plan to build a Silk Road-style global trade network, the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. (VOA)