Teenagers in Connecticut soon may no longer have legal access to tobacco and e-cigarette products.
The Connecticut House overwhelmingly approved a bill 124-22 that will increase from 18 to 21 the minimum age to purchase such products. The bill now heads to the Senate.
If approved, Connecticut will join eight other states in raising the age to purchase tobacco, though hundreds of municipalities throughout the country have taken steps to ban teenagers from purchasing cigarettes and e-cigarettes, including several Fairfield County.
The bill imposes a $300 fine on a retailer who sells a tobacco product to anyone under age 21, increases, from $50 to $200, the annual license fee for cigarette dealers; and increases from $400 to $800 the annual registration fee for e-cigarette dealers.
According to the organization “Tobacco Free Kids,” “increasing the minimum sale age for tobacco products to 21 is a promising strategy to reduce smoking and other tobacco use among youth and save lives. Raising the sale age to 21 complements other strategies to reduce tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws that include all workplaces and public places, and well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention and cessation programs.”
“With the rising use of e-cigarettes and vaping products among young people, we are seeing a growing public health crisis,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement after the vote. “Some have pointed out that raising the age to 21 will result in a net revenue loss to the state, but when it comes to the health of our young people we need to do what is right.”
A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine - now called the National Academy of Medicine - found that raising the tobacco age to 21 “will have a substantial positive impact on public health and save lives.”
The study determined that “increasing the tobacco age will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking; reduce smoking-caused deaths; and immediately improve the health of adolescents, young adults and young mothers who would be deterred from smoking, as well as their children.”
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