WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tobacco sales, including e-cigarettes, are set to be banned to people under 21 nationwide under a proposal that was part of a massive spending package passed by the U.S. House.
Public health advocates said raising the age for tobacco sales is a positive move, but they worry the change will mean lawmakers will not take any more action to crack down on youth vaping.
"If raising the age to 21 serves as an excuse not to ban flavored e-cigarettes, it's net effect could well be harmful,” Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 2,400 people in the U.S. have reported e-cigarette related illnesses and 52 deaths have been connected to vaping. Most cases involving injury or death involved the use of THC.
Myers and other public health advocates are pushing for a ban of flavored e-cigarettes saying it targets kids and teens. President Trump supported the ban earlier this year but then backed away from the potential ban.
"We're deeply concerned,” Myers said.
Vapers we spoke with said they hope the proposed age change means lawmakers will regulate the industry and not impose bans.
“I certainly think that it’s good for the market,” Andrew Kosik with Tobacco King in Alexandra, VA said. “It helps to try and encourage a 21-plus sale. Regulating a product out of the hands of adults is just absolutely uncalled for.”
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