Community Issues

Bill Raising Age to Buy Tobacco Products Could Come Next Month

The proposed legislation appears to have bipartisan support and backing from tobacco industry.

The United States is getting even closer to raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The New York Times reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), considered an ally of the tobacco industry, plans to introduce a bill to "raise the age" in May, and that industry members appear to be on board .

According to the New York Times, Altria, Juul and R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are pushing back on the claim they have marketed their addictive products teenagers, and all have said they back raising the minimum age. The proposal to raise the age has gained traction in part due to a spike in teen vaping and e-cigarette use.

"For some time, I've been hearing from the parents who are seeing an unprecedented spike in vaping among their teenage children," Sen. McConnell said last week. "In addition, we all know people who started smoking at a young age and who struggled to quit as adults."

The Times also notes that while public health advocates are applauding efforts to raise the minimum age, there are also concerns that certain provisions in the potential legislation could benefit the tobacco industry. Industry representatives have sought to include certain items in state legislation that would make enforcement more difficult, or prevent local governments from banning certain flavors of e-cigarettes, among others. Sen. McConnell has not outlined any specifics that will be included in the bill, but says he believes it will have bipartisan support.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have passed "Tobacco 21" laws.

If you want to let your senators know where you stand on raising the minimum age, you can click here .

Feature image courtesy Masha Glebova.

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