Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to introduce a bill into Congress in the coming weeks that would raise the national minimum age required to legally sell tobacco from age 18 to 21. This is being done to combat the rise of vaping, which is the act of inhaling or exhaling aerosol produced by e-cigarettes, vape-pens, advanced personal vaporizers and other similar devices. Those who are most likely to vape tend to be younger people.
Research published by Truth Initiative indicated that the rates of e-cigarette use among youths younger than 18 is shockingly high. The rates of usage have raised to 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school students using, compared to research conducted in 2011. Some states allow 18 year olds to purchase vaping instruments and e-cigarettes, but others require the customers to be 19 or, in a handful of states, 21.
The first places to experience the debate over the appropriate age to buy tobacco in the wake of the emergence and popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping were cities, and further debates happened at the state level in the legislative chambers of a multitude of states. State level legislation in multiple states emerged and passed or failed all over the country, and some of the states to pass legislation to raise the minimum age may surprise people.
Both Democrat led California and Republican led Utah have passed legislation that increases the minimum age to 21, showing this to be an area of surprising unity among lawmakers. Hundreds of cities and municipalities also have passed and enacted legislation meant to restrict the legality of tobacco products and cut down on their potential customer base for the sake of public health.
Part of what is surprising to some observers of the McConnell is that Kentucky, the state the Senator represents, is famous for tobacco production and is in fact one of the leading states when it comes to tobacco sales. In terms of public health, the state is also one of the leading states in terms of cancer rates, particularly in terms of lung cancer. Lung cancer in Kentucky is believed by some, including the American Cancer Society to be responsible for a total of around 3,290 deaths and some have suggested that the prevalence of smoking in the state is partially responsible for that. The state has one of the highest rates of cigarette use in the country at an estimated 24.6 percent as of 2017 at least according to research from the Center for Disease Control, losing only to West Virginia which according to the same research comes in at 26 percent.
This effort to regulate different types of e-cigarette use isn’t only occurring at the congressional level, as this latest effort is following calls by the Food and Drug Administration to more heavily regulate and even restrict some types of tobacco products, most notably flavored tobacco products that some administrators believe might lure in children and young people who would otherwise avoid usage of tobacco.