Legal Age of Smoking, Vaping Set to Change to 21

December 19, 2019, 1:38 PM HST (Updated December 19, 2019, 1:38 PM)
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Legislation that would raise the federal smoking and vaping from 18 to 21 passed the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by the president.

Sen. Brian Schatz first authored the bill that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.

“This is a big win for public health. Raising the minimum smoking and vaping age to 21 will protect our kids and save lives,” Schatz said.

There has been heightened concern over vaping as youth across the country have been suffering from a lung injury after the use of vaping products. In November, Hawai‘i Department of Health confirmed four individuals suffered from the injury. Two of the individuals were adolescents and two were adults. All were hospitalized and have recovered.

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Every day, approximately 1,300 people die from smoking-related diseases, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to a press release from Schatz’s office.

Research from the National Academy of Medicine shows that raising the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives per year from deaths related to smoking. Approximately ninety-five percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.

In 2015, Hawai‘i became the first state in the nation to raise the smoking age to 21. Since then, 18 states and the District of Columbia have followed Hawai‘i’s lead. Schatz’s law will expand the minimum legal sale age nationwide.

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