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Raising tobacco and vaping age to 21 gets bi-partisan support; passes state Senate

Photo credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

HARTFORD — There have been a lot of hotly debated and controversial bills at the Capitol this year. But raising the age for tobacco and vaping products doesn’t appear to be one of them.

HB 7200 already passed the House. Now, the senate will vote. It raises the age for purchase of tobacco and vaping products to 21. 

The bill also does several other things. It bans smoking and eciggs on child care or school property. It requires dealers who ship directly to customers to get a signature of a person 21 or older prior to delivery. It also increases both the license and registration fees for cigarette dealers.

The bill charges the state with conducting random compliance checks on businesses that sell the products. 

Both Democrats and Republicans hailed the bills public health benefits. Sen. Mae Flexer, (D) Killingly said, “We don’t know the full effects of the use of vaping products and other similar products. We don’t know the full impact on the health of our young people the way that we do cigarettes but what we do know is that these products are tremendously addictive.”

Sen. Heather Somer, (R) 12th District said, “Most people who have addiction for cigarettes and we will probably see in the future vaping products. They start when they are very young. In their early teens and sometimes in middle school and everyone that you speak to wishes they had never picked up a cigarette.”

The bill also imposes penalties on businesses who don’t follow the rules including the possible suspension of their license. It also imposes fines for users who try to misrepresent their age. $50 for a first offense and $100 after that.

Lawmakers say it’s fitting they are voting on the bill Friday. It is ‘World No Tobacco Day.’ Once passed, it heads to the Governors desk.

Press release from Governor Ned Lamont’s office

GOVERNOR LAMONT, LT. GOVERNOR BYSIEWICZ, AND COMMISSIONER COLEMAN-MITCHELL APPLAUD FINAL PASSAGE OF BILL RAISING THE AGE TO PURCHASE TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO 21

Governor Plans to Sign Bill in the Coming Days

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and Department of Public Health Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell are applauding the State Senate for voting to give final approval to legislation today that will prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic delivery systems, and vapor products to persons under the age of 21. The legislation was approved in the House of Representatives on May 16 and will next be transmitted to the governor’s desk.

When Governor Lamont signs the bill in the coming days, Connecticut will become the 14th state to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Governor Lamont said, “When our laws surrounding tobacco products were written several decades ago, the medical evidence about the impact of the substance did not exist. With the rising use of e-cigarettes and vaping products among young people, we are seeing a growing public health crisis. 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. I applaud the bipartisan members from each chamber of our state legislature for voting to raise the age. When I sign this into law, we will have taken an important step forward in protecting the health of the youngest members of our communities.”

Lt. Governor Bysiewicz said, “Adolescent brains are particularly vulnerable to damage from nicotine addiction. We all know that smoking leads to various tobacco-related illnesses including lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Considering that nearly nine out of ten smokers start by the time they turn 18, this legislation will help reduce levels of nicotine dependence and over time, decrease the number of tobacco related deaths across our state.”

Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell said, “This is a major step forward for public health in Connecticut. Increasing the age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 is an evidence-based strategy endorsed by many national health and medical organizations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as another effort to help reduce youth tobacco use, which has been increasing at an alarming rate.  Nicotine is easier than ever to ingest for our young people, with the growing popularity of vaping. It has been shown to have adverse health impacts including on brain development. States that have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products have seen decreased usage among 18 to 21-year-olds. We are excited to see these positive results going forward in our state.”

The legislation is House Bill 7200, An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Cigarettes, Tobacco Products, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Vapor Products to Persons Under the Age of Twenty-One.

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