The US Congress voted on Thursday (Dec 19) to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 across the country, a move intended to stem the rising tide of youth vaping.
Passed by the Senate as part of a wider budgetary bill, it will take effect next year and will mean that tobacco and e-cigarettes will join alcohol as substances that are prohibited to purchase for those under the age of 21.
Nineteen of the country’s 50 states and the capital Washington, DC had already set 21 as the minimum age.
“I’m proud the Senate approved legislation today including our Tobacco-Free Youth Act to help address this urgent crisis and keep these dangerous products away from our children,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, who co-sponsored the bill along with Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.
The bill is aimed at combating the skyrocketing popularity of vaping among young people, who have turned away from traditional cigarettes and even alcohol in favor of e-cigarettes.
About 28 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in the last 30 days according to a government survey for the year 2019, compared to just 11 per cent in 2016.