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Tobacco 21 Report: Is 21 or 18 the Ideal Age?

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Every several months we see enough hits on Tobacco 21 worthy of a blog to note which jurisdictions have either passed the law or are contemplating such a move. However, possibly more important is the debate within each potential passage: Is 21 too old? Isn’t 18 “adult” enough? Of course we had this debate with the alcohol age in the United States, and today’s tobacco possession and/or sales laws — vaping included — are no different.

The list of jurisdictions mulling a Tobacco 21 law include:

  • Lake Zurich, IL, where the village board has voted on raising the age to buy and possess tobacco products. Feedback from residents included an online poll and public comment.
  • The state of Maryland, where the Legislative Black Caucus is pushing for Tobacco 21. The bill will go through the legislative process in 2019, and would target retailers who sell to minors and not the purchasers themselves.
  • South Windsor, CT, where the town council is creating a Tobacco 21 ordinance for purchase.
  • The town of Keene, NH, where the vote passed for Tobacco 21. The new law went into effect immediately following the vote, and it prohibits use, purchases and possession. Violators are subject to a $50 fine on first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses.
  • Park Ridge, IL, where officials would like to pass Tobacco 21 for purchase, but not possession. If approved, purchasers would be subjected to $500 fines, along with businesses that would also be fined an undetermined amount.
  • Eden Prairie, MN, where Tobacco 21 has passed and goes into effect Feb. 1.
  • Duluth, MN, where officials are also looking at Tobacco 21 for purchase. The vote is planned at a city council meeting toward the end of January.
  • Suffolk, NY, where Tobacco 21 laws have tightened even further. Retailers as of April, 2019, will be fined even higher if they are caught selling to those under 21 — to the tune of $1,000 for the first violation and up to $2,000 for subsequent violations.
  • Sommerville, MA, became the first municipality in the state to pass a law that states e-cigarettes can only be sold in 21 and over tobacco sales stores. The law goes into effect April 1.
  • Pope County, MN, became the second city in the state to adopt Tobacco 21 for purchases.
  • Lawmakers in the state of Nebraska look to adopt Tobacco 21 in the entire state with LB149. If passed, the law would include purchase, an aim that SFATA says is “a ridiculous overstep of the proper role of government in American lives."

For the latest in Tobacco 21 legislature and to get involved, visit CASAA.org.