Congress Is Ready to Raise the Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco to 21

Following similar moves on the state-level around the country, the House of Representatives approved a provision on Tuesday that would raise the legal age to buy cigarettes and tobacco products in the United States to 21 from 18, according to the text of the House amendment.

The provision, part of a $1.37 trillion spending bill, would make the federal law for purchasing tobacco products on par with laws for alcohol purchase in the U.S. and would apply to cigarettes and e-cigarettes and vapes that include tobacco.

News of this provision follow large-scale concern from the healthcare community about the epidemic of the vaping illness that’s hospitalized a number of people (that’s largely connected with black market marijuana products, but still being studied) and the widespread reports of increased vaping and tobacco-use among teens, as SheKnows previously reported. Notably, recent government surveys have found that one in four high school students admitted to vaping within the previous 30 days.

While nothing is finalized yet, the provision is considered a likely inclusion given its bipartisan support. The legislation was first introduced as a bill with bipartisan in the spring as The Tobacco-Free Youth Act, sponsored by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

ICYMI, SheKnows spoke with teens earlier this year to find out
what they actually think about vaping: 

“This legislation will have an enormous positive impact on public health in our country — and it’s needed now more than ever as we grapple with the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” Kaine said in a tweet on Monday.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long advocated for so-called Tobacco 21 laws as a way to help reduce the number of young people who become addicted to nicotine while in their teens. One 2015 report from the United States Institute of Medicine found that raising the age for tobacco purchase to 21 would lead to “a 12 percent decrease in smoking prevalence.”

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Recent tobacco control efforts have focused on raising the minimum age for youth to legally purchase tobacco products to 21 years old,” according to the AAP’s website. “The movement behind this change is called “Tobacco 21”, and it has been gaining traction in counties, cities, and states across the country. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the tobacco product purchase age be raised to 21.”

This provision also follows recent news that multiple states were filing lawsuits against Juul labs Inc., a popular vaping company, as SheKnows previously reported, alleging that their advertising campaigns and web presence targeted younger demographics. The company previously announced in October that they would be removing their non-tobacco or menthol flavors from retailers.


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