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Federal Tobacco 21 Legislation Introduced in the U.S. Senate


Bipartisan proposal would raise the nationwide minimum purchase age on all tobacco products.

A bipartisan bill introduced this week in the U.S. Senate would raise the nationwide minimum age to buy all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, from 18 to 21. Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former Vice Presidential hopeful and Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine, the Tobacco-Free Youth Act was introduced in response to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found youth e-cigarette users increased by 1.5 million between 2017 to 2018, with one of every four high school students reporting they have used a tobacco product in the last 30 days.

While the bill makes it unlawful for retailers to sell tobacco products to anyone younger than 21, it leaves it open for states to enact laws with a higher minimum age, if they choose. Additionally, the legislation does not exempt individuals serving in the military from its requirements. While it is similar in content to a proposals introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the McConnell/Kaine bill would not ban flavored tobacco products that are intended to appeal to youth.

Fourteen states, many local governments, as well as major retailers including Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid have already raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.   

OPMCA continues to urge lawmakers to support fair, commonsense tobacco regulation policies. Association leaders have been in Washington, DC twice in the last two months to discuss tobacco regulations with members of the Ohio Congressional delegation.




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