MONTPELIER >> Speaker Shap Smith has declined a rare opportunity to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Vermont House, effectively killing a measure to raise the state's smoking age from 18 to 21.

Rep. George Till, a Jericho Democrat and physician, offered the amendment Wednesday on a bill relating to electronic cigarettes, and a roll call resulted in a tie vote of 71 to 71.

House rules say the speaker may — but doesn't have to — cast the tie-breaking vote. Smith declined to do so, and the amendment failed.

The speaker's assistant, Dylan Giambatista, later said Smith was bothered by the fact that Till's amendment had not been reviewed by a House committee, a usual part of the legislative process. He says there may be other opportunities to revisit the issue.