With the support of leaders in both parties, Congress is moving to approve a batch of year-end budget bills which contain a provision that will raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years, a landmark legislative change which will include e-cigarettes and all vaping products.
"It shall be unlawful for any retailer to sell a tobacco product to any person younger than 21 years of age," the bill states on page 1493, as the tobacco provision was stuffed into a broader package of year end funding measures for the federal government.
“This legislation will have an enormous positive impact on public health in our country — and it’s needed now more than ever as we grapple with the youth e-cigarette epidemic," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
"I look forward to its passage and the President's signature," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as two tobacco state Senators from opposite parties championed the plan.
"Raising the tobacco age will help protect kids and prevent future smokers," argued Sen. Todd Young (R-IN).
"I am proud that this agreement takes strong action to advance the health and well-being of America’s children, including by raising the tobacco age to 21," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Earlier this year Senator @timkaine and I introduced the bipartisan, Tobacco-Free Youth Act. This important life-saving legislation would raise the nationwide minimum age to buy all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, from 18 to 21.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 16, 2019
Big victory for public health here. My bill to raise the tobacco smoking age (combustible and vape) to 21 is in the Appropriations Bill. Thanks to @DickDurbin @SenatorRomney and @ToddYoungIN for their leadership and partnership. This simple change will save thousands of lives.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) December 16, 2019
19 states and the District of Columbia already limit tobacco sales to age 21 - just like alcohol - this measure would extend that nationwide.
The agreement on the new purchase age for tobacco came as a new study was released showing those who have used e-cigarettes were 30 percent more likely to get a chronic lung disease.
The tobacco plan was part of an over 1,700 page bill stuffed with eight funding bills for the federal government - and a number of legislative extras, which drew scorn from a handful of GOP lawmakers.
"Can anyone defend stuffing this in the omnibus spending bill?" said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) of the tobacco provision. "This should be a separate piece of legislation."
Never smoked in my life but this is absurd. But big tobacco actually wants it so there you go... power politics in the swamp... https://t.co/HzAJtYaUQE— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) December 17, 2019
Can anyone defend stuffing this in the omnibus spending bill? This should be a separate piece of legislation. What else is going to be in this trillion dollar bill? https://t.co/aaeNxCcHZy— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 16, 2019
A House vote on the Tobacco 21 provision was expected on Tuesday; final approval is likely later this week in the Senate.
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