PA House passes bill to prohibit tobacco purchases with EBT cards

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved legislation to forbid purchases of tobacco and tobacco products with electronic benefits transfer cards.

House Bill 847 passed the House by a 154-32 vote Thursday and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

The bill’s author, Rep. Justin Walsh (R-Westmoreland), said public assistance money “should pay for the essentials of life, not luxury items.”

“It is important to remember that these funds come from the taxpayers and should be used judiciously,” Walsh said in a statement. “Tobacco products are not necessary for survival.”

State law already bans purchases of liquor and alcohol using EBT cards, which are issued by the Department of Human Services to administer public assistance benefits.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference said it supports the measure.

“Addiction of any kind must be treated and should not be enabled by the expenditure of critical public assistance dollars,” PCC executive director Eric Failing said. “Individuals who use EBT cards should be encouraged to make wise and healthy choices to support themselves and their families.”

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