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: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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