Community Issues

Anti-vaping Activists Look to Raise Legal Age to 21

Pennsylvania, federal government considering a law that would raise the legal age for all nicotine products.

Anti-smoking and vaping advocates are working to raise the minimum age to purchase any nicotine product.

While overall smoking and teen smoking rates have declined, E-cigarette use among middle and high school students is rising sharply. According to CBS News, five percent middle school students reported trying e-cigarettes within the last 30 days, up from less than 1 percent in 2011 . And among high schoolers, that number jumped from 1.5% in 2011 to more than 20% in 2018.

While e-cigarettes can be effective in helping adult smokers quit tobacco, doctors and health experts are concerned about their effect on younger users.

"Nicotine is one of the most addictive chemicals known to man," Dr. Sharon Levy told CBS News. "And we know that some kids are getting addicted with really just a handful of uses. Nicotine can interfere with memory and can interfere with learning, particularly in younger individuals."

Nine states have passed laws to raise the minimum age to purchase nicotine products to 21. Last week, Rep Robert Aderholt (R-AL) introduced a bill that would make 21 the legal age nationwide, the Stopping Consumption of Tobacco by Teens.

In Pennsylvania, State Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe Co.) introduced a bill last month to raise the legal age to 21 .

The FDA has rolled out new rules to prevent teen use of e-cigarettes. That includes a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in stores that don't have areas prohibiting kids under 18, which the FDA should include most convenience stores and gas stations.

Image courtesy Nery Zarate.

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