Congress Proposes ‘Tobacco to 21 Act’

Bipartisan bill introduced in addition to Sen. McConnell’s plans
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON Moving the minimum age to purchase tobacco federally from 18 to 21 received a major boost this spring, with lawmakers introducing a bipartisan measure in both houses of Congress, CNBC reported.

In late April, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) introduced legislation in the House, while Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) did so in the Senate.

Just weeks earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would introduce his own legislation on the minimum tobacco buying age, but lawmakers affiliated with the bipartisan measure feared McConnell’s bill would simultaneously initiate steps that may help the tobacco industry, CNBC reported.

“Unlike other bills drafted by the industry, our bill has no special-interest carve-outs or limitations on state and local governments,” DeGette said. “Unlike other bills, our bill was drafted with one simple goal in mind, and that’s to protect public health by keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young people.”

The Tobacco to 21 Act would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 and would include cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes. The measure would also require retailers to check the photo IDs of anyone 30 or younger.

“The Tobacco to 21 Act will be an important step to protect kids from the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, and we urge our nation’s leaders to quickly pass this life-saving legislation,” American Lung Association CEO Harold Wimmer said.

Earlier this spring, Delaware joined 11 states in raising the minimum purchase age to 21. At least 450 cities and counties have enacted similar laws, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington, D.C.

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