Raising of buying age for tobacco proposed

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 20, 2019

McConnell, R-Ky., who made the announcement in his home state, which is one of the nation's largest tobacco producers, noted Kentucky has some of the highest cancer rates in the country. He has received more than $160,000 in contributions from Altria, a major cigarette manufacturer.

'For some time, I've been hearing from the parents who are seeing an unprecedented spike in vaping among their teenage children. Unfortunately, it's reaching epidemic levels around the country, ' the Republican senator from Kentucky said in a statement.

He said his bill, which will be introduced in May, will be similar to current legislation used to enforce the minimum age of 18. "As you know, I'm in a particularly good position to enact legislation and this will be a top priority". McConnell's office said 12 states have already enacted laws raising the minimum legal age to 21. More than a decade ago, McConnell helped win the multibillion-dollar tobacco buyout, which compensated US tobacco growers and others for losing production quotas when the government's price-support program ended.

Kentucky lawmakers rejected this year's state initiative to raise the minimum legal age for buying tobacco products to 21.

Yet some members of the anti-smoking community are skeptical about what's really going on. But Myers said he is concerned that tobacco companies are attempting to include special-interest provisions that would hinder protections for kids. She has previously sponsored tobacco-related bills in the Kentucky legislature. His bill, though, will cover all tobacco products, including cigars.

Many believe the age requirement change would make it harder for teens who might try to get them illegally. In addition to nicotine and other tobacco products, vape products contain flavorings that may be safe to eat but not to inhale.

"To bring McConnell in, that's like the super, biggest gun you could bring in", he says.

Philip Morris International tells NPR it has applications pending before the Food and Drug Administration to commercialize its product IQOS in the U.S.

A 2015 study from the National Academy of Medicine found that among adults who became daily smokers, about 90 percent started using cigarettes before they were 19.

In an email, an Altria spokesperson says the company backs "straight-forward tobacco 21 bills".

Louisville, the place of Mr McConnell's announcement, is home to some of the highest cancer rates across the USA, with 34% of cancers in the state linked directly with smoking. He said 34 percent of cancers in Kentucky are directly tied to smoking.

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