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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.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19690230
Hinds18812389
Harrison16722280
Rankin12725265
Jackson12603228
Lee9691160
Madison9466203
Jones7978147
Forrest7217138
Lauderdale6836226
Lowndes6031140
Lamar588480
Lafayette5736113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4612123
Oktibbeha441493
Panola430894
Pearl River4174130
Warren4130115
Pontotoc409771
Marshall403392
Monroe3990126
Union395674
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3544103
Hancock347975
Leflore3376118
Sunflower318986
Tate302974
Pike300796
Scott293970
Alcorn291862
Itawamba290075
Yazoo289963
Tippah278965
Coahoma278668
Copiah278158
Simpson275879
Prentiss269858
Wayne254241
Marion252778
Leake252671
Covington248980
Grenada247578
Adams234678
George231845
Newton229952
Winston221777
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201152
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170939
Clarke169371
Calhoun157928
Smith152832
Yalobusha144836
Greene127733
Walthall124240
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry121734
Lawrence120421
Carroll118425
Amite111734
Webster110631
Jefferson Davis101931
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93524
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77214
Franklin76119
Choctaw69617
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48917
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 494421

Reported Deaths: 9991
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson711451374
Mobile36184735
Madison32457458
Tuscaloosa24213412
Montgomery22636517
Shelby22020214
Baldwin19790284
Lee14980154
Morgan13693251
Calhoun13307287
Etowah13192320
Marshall11269209
Houston10102261
Elmore9408185
Limestone9376134
Cullman8903181
St. Clair8839224
Lauderdale8601212
DeKalb8465175
Talladega7552164
Walker6538258
Jackson6503103
Autauga630391
Blount6106127
Colbert5993119
Coffee5254102
Dale4648107
Russell405233
Franklin399478
Covington3970106
Chilton3883100
Escambia378172
Tallapoosa3596143
Clarke343753
Chambers3421111
Dallas3412141
Pike293372
Lawrence283684
Marion283495
Winston247368
Bibb245460
Geneva240270
Marengo236557
Pickens224555
Barbour212451
Hale210668
Fayette200957
Butler197566
Henry182641
Cherokee177139
Monroe166339
Randolph163840
Washington156635
Crenshaw145254
Clay145054
Macon142343
Cleburne137841
Lamar133133
Lowndes131251
Wilcox122525
Bullock117136
Conecuh106724
Perry105827
Sumter98632
Coosa89224
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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