The federal legal age for purchasing tobacco products has been increased from 18 to 21 in a move the American Lung Association said will “reduce youth access to tobacco products and help save lives.”
That provision, part of a $1.4 trillion spending bill which President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday, would apply not only to traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars, but also to e-cigarettes—products that have lately been caught in regulatory cross-hairs, sparked by rising rates of use among teenagers. According to the latest federal data, 27.5% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes during the past month. Raising the legal age of purchase is meant in part to curb that trend by preventing teenagers from buying vaping products, either for personal use or to distribute to younger classmates.
So-called “Tobacco 21” legislation has already been implemented in almost 20 states as well as numerous cities across the country. The new legislation, which will take effect in the summer of 2020, would make 21 the mandatory minimum age of purchase for all states. Tobacco 21 is the rare policy supported by both public-health groups and pro-vaping advocates, although the latter’s support sometimes raises eyebrows among the former. Public health officials support it on the premise that it would theoretically keep tobacco products away from young people—which is especially important since most smokers start before they’re 21. In a statement provided to TIME, the American Lung Association called it an “easy way to protect children’s health and prevent future generations from getting hooked on nicotine.”
Jamie Ducharme – Time – December 22, 2019.