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US raises legal age to buy cigarettes, vapes to 21

From lung cancer to gum disease, smoking tobacco can cause serious damage to your health.

Posted: Dec 21, 2019 1:20 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2019 1:20 PM

President Donald Trump on Friday signed a sweeping spending bill into law, including a measure that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

The increased age restriction for tobacco purchases is one of several provisions outside of the spending measures themselves that will be attached to the broader $1.4 trillion spending agreement.

Trump tweeted Friday that the spending agreement "raises smoking age to 21! BIG!" -- marking the change as one of its highlights.

The restriction on tobacco sales has long been pushed by a bipartisan mix of senators: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican; Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Todd Young of Indiana; as well as Democrats including Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

Those lawmakers have been looking for a way to get the prohibition across the finish line and now they've found one, by attaching it to a must-pass series of bills to avoid a government shutdown.

States that have already raised the minimum age

Raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the United States from 18 to 21 marks a major public health achievement for the White House. There already have been several states that have individually passed legislation to raise the tobacco-buying age to 21.

As of December, 19 states have raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, according to the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Washington, DC, and more than 500 cities and towns also have raised the age.

Trump has previously spoken in favor of raising the age limit to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vape products, to 21.

"We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we're going to have an age limit of 21 or so, so we'll be coming out with something next week very important on vaping," Trump said while standing outside of the White House in November.

In September, Trump said that the US Food and Drug Administration would put out "some very strong recommendations" regarding the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. At the time, Trump administration officials said the agency would remove all non-tobacco-flavored vaping products from the market.

The announcement came amid continued concerns about rising levels of youth vaping and a mysterious outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries.

Health organizations have pressured the administration to ban flavors, which are popular among young people. Vaping advocates have argued they're a tool for adult smokers to quit combustible cigarettes. Vape shop owners have argued that limits on sales of flavors would destroy their businesses.

The new provision in the spending bill could be seen by some as the president's response to the youth vaping epidemic. Vaping remained popular among teens across the United States in 2019.

The latest report from a federal survey, called Monitoring the Future, found that 1 in 4 12th graders, 1 in 5 10th graders and nearly 1 in 10 8th graders say that they have vaped nicotine in the past month.

Advocates want more from the White House to curb youth vaping

"We applaud congressional efforts to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 and urge the President to sign this bill. The Vapor Technology Association has advocated for raising the age to 21 for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and believes, along with the public health groups, that this is the most significant step that can be taken to reduce youth access and use," Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association, said in an emailed statement on Friday.

"VTA stands ready to continue working with Congress on the many real solutions (rather than a misguided flavor ban agenda), that should be implemented to achieve the twin goals of restricting youth vaping and preserving flavored vapor as an alternative for adults desperately trying to quit smoking," Abboud's statement said.

Yet many health and parent organizations have called on the President to do more than raise the legal tobacco-buying age.

On Monday, Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a written statement that raising the federal tobacco age to 21 without also prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes will not stop the youth e-cigarette epidemic.

"Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a positive step, but it is not a substitute for prohibiting the flavored e-cigarettes that are luring and addicting our kids," Myers said in part.

"To reverse the e-cigarette epidemic, policy makers must prohibit flavored e-cigarettes and cannot be limited by what the tobacco industry says is acceptable," Myers' statement said. "The evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes are driving the youth epidemic. Most youth e-cigarette users use flavored products and cite flavors as a key reason for their use. As long as flavored e-cigarettes remain available, kids will find ways to get them and this epidemic will continue."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119336

Reported Deaths: 3328
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8109180
DeSoto734280
Harrison553785
Jackson488488
Rankin412386
Madison388094
Lee368682
Forrest313478
Jones298484
Washington2644100
Lauderdale2611135
Lafayette256043
Lamar234040
Oktibbeha206055
Bolivar205279
Neshoba1883111
Lowndes182862
Leflore173088
Panola172241
Sunflower165949
Warren156656
Monroe154873
Pontotoc151520
Marshall150530
Lincoln144859
Pike140956
Copiah139936
Scott128129
Coahoma126537
Union126025
Yazoo124534
Simpson124049
Grenada123139
Tate123039
Pearl River117960
Itawamba117827
Leake117042
Holmes115160
Adams110245
Prentiss109520
Alcorn105012
Wayne103422
George103020
Covington99729
Marion96944
Tippah95124
Hancock88128
Newton88128
Chickasaw87028
Winston85921
Tallahatchie85826
Tishomingo83141
Attala80927
Clarke78353
Clay71522
Jasper69817
Walthall64827
Calhoun63613
Smith60816
Noxubee60317
Yalobusha56616
Montgomery56523
Lawrence55314
Claiborne54216
Tunica53917
Perry52823
Carroll50912
Stone49814
Greene48218
Humphreys45817
Amite43413
Jefferson Davis42412
Quitman4246
Webster38213
Benton36911
Wilkinson34321
Kemper33415
Sharkey29115
Jefferson28110
Franklin2533
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 162720

Reported Deaths: 2735
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23940385
Mobile17123319
Tuscaloosa10602141
Montgomery10503199
Madison955798
Shelby760565
Baldwin676869
Lee664965
Calhoun476562
Marshall447451
Etowah441952
Morgan430835
Houston423934
DeKalb355429
Elmore327858
St. Clair311342
Limestone297031
Walker287493
Talladega276437
Cullman266525
Lauderdale240543
Jackson225317
Autauga212631
Colbert210232
Franklin209432
Blount200925
Russell19833
Chilton192332
Dallas189227
Dale184952
Coffee183611
Covington177329
Escambia175831
Clarke138717
Chambers138047
Tallapoosa137287
Pike136414
Marion110931
Barbour10559
Marengo104622
Butler101941
Winston94713
Geneva9427
Pickens89018
Lawrence88533
Bibb86115
Randolph84616
Hale78130
Cherokee76414
Clay76312
Washington75812
Henry7316
Lowndes72128
Monroe66310
Bullock65117
Crenshaw61230
Fayette59913
Perry5996
Cleburne5799
Conecuh57213
Wilcox57112
Macon54320
Lamar5235
Sumter48621
Choctaw39512
Greene34516
Coosa2173
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