21 to buy tobacco? Senate leader wants to raise national minimum age

Mc Connell wants to raise the minimum age for tobacco products including vaping devices to 21 from 18

The senior senator from Kentucky says the bill will cover all tobacco products, including vaping devices and would require retailers to verify ages for any products related to tobacco.

Senator Mitch McConnell, long one of the tobacco industry's loyal allies, said on Thursday that he would sponsor legislation to raise the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Twelve states have enacted laws to raise the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21. He intends to introduce the bill next month.

In a statement, Altria Group Chief Executive Howard Willard said the company "strongly supports" McConnell's move, calling it 'the most effective action to reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates.' A representative for British American Tobacco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of cigarette smokers try their first cigarette before they turn 18.

Kentucky does have a high cancer rate, it is one of the highest in the country.

Efforts to raise Kentucky's tobacco purchasing age to 21 in the state legislature failed during the 2019 legislative session. Vaping is an electronic form of smoking.

A smoker is engulfed by vapours as he smokes an electronic vaping machine during lunch time in central London, on August 9, 2017.

"To me, the most serious threat involves the use of vaping devices for teens under 18 years old", said McConnell. Alarmingly 45% of Kentucky high school students report having tried vaping.

Among officials joining McConnell at the announcement Thursday was former Kentucky Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler, now president and CEO of the foundation.

Studies have shown that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 would have a dramatic effect on the number of teens who smoke or use e-cigarettes. In addition, we all know people who started smoking at a young age and who struggled to quit as adults. Use of tobacco products among high school students moved up by almost 78%. Also, about 28 percent of high school e-cigarette users said they vaped 20 or more days in the previous month - almost a 40 percent jump from the previous year.

The CDC findings came from a national survey conducted last spring of more than 20,000 middle and high school students.

"Many people use these products with no nicotine in them whatsoever", said Freeman.

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