Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Congress Raises Age for E-Cigs and Tobacco to 21

Popular

Congress has taken action to put a stop to the soaring popularity of vaping amongst teenagers. Tucked into a spending bill that passed the House and the Senate on Tuesday is a provision that raises the legal age to buy e-cigarette products and tobacco products from 18 to 21, as the New York Times reported.


President Donald Trump, who had said he would ban flavored e-cigarettes and then backtracked from that statement, is expected to sign the bill, as the New York Times reported.

"Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a positive step, but it is not a substitute for prohibiting the flavored e-cigarettes that are luring and addicting our kids," said Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids media director Dave Lemmon in an emailed statement to Forbes.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, tweeted yesterday, "The Tobacco-Free Youth Act I introduced with Senator Kaine, is headed to @POTUS' desk and will help address this urgent crisis and keep tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, away from children."

The legislation has bipartisan support after recent data has shown e-cigarettes growing in popularity amongst teens. As of yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control identified 54 deaths and over 2,500 lung related injuries attributed to vaping. Gizmodo reported that the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that more than 5 million youth are currently using e-cigarettes, with 1 million using it daily. The report also found that just 5.8 percent of high school students use traditional cigarettes, but 27.5 percent were using vaping products.

"This is a big win for public health," said Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, who had proposed the higher national age limit to buy tobacco in 2015 after his state adopted it, as the New York Times reported. "Raising the minimum smoking and vaping age to 21 will protect our kids and save lives."

Hawaii is far from the only state to raise the legal age limit. So far, 19 states and more than 500 municipalities have already raised the purchasing age to 21, according to the New York Times.

Many in the tobacco and e-cigarette industry approved of the measure, seeing it as a way to cushion the criticism the industry faces for marketing to youth. Sen. Dick Durbin is in favor of raising the age limit, but he was disappointed that the provision did not include an outright ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

"Any serious solution to skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use must include the removal of kid-friendly flavors, not just the tobacco industry's preferred policy," Senator Durbin said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

The backlash to the marketing to kids recently forced Facebook to change its policies on its site and on Instagram. While Facebook's ad policies have banned vaping and tobacco-products, it does allow influencers to post about smoking and accept sponsorship from advertisers, according to CNBC.

The company announced Wednesday that it will no longer allow influencers to post branded content on any of its platforms that promote e-cigarettes or tobacco products, effectively closing the loophole in private posts that advertisers exploited, as CNBC reported.

The National Academy of Medicine has estimated that 90 percent of smokers developed their addiction before turning 19, when developing brains are most vulnerable to nicotine addiction. That has led some to believe that raising the legal age limit will reduce long-term addiction.

"I think that you would be able to see lots of improvements in reduction of tobacco use among teens, all of which is good because the longer you delay any kind of initiation, the less likelihood there is to develop addiction and the less likely it is that use will escalate," said Robin Mermelstein, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as the New York Times reported.

Critics, however, contend that the bill makes no mention of how to implement raising the age-limit, and it will be toothless if retailers continue to sell to youth. Furthermore, most public health advocates argue that a ban on flavored e-cigarette products and an excise tax are more effective in reducing youth smoking, according to the New York Times.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

During a protest action on May 30 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Datteln in front of the site of the Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant, Greenpeace activists projected the lettering: "Climate crisis - Made in Germany" onto the cooling tower. Guido Kirchner / picture alliance / Getty Images

Around 500 climate activists on Saturday gathered outside the new Datteln 4 coal power plant in Germany's Ruhr region, to protest against its opening.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Mark Brunswick (2R), Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality, walks through the lab at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

Around the world, there have been several cases of people recovering from COVID-19 only to later test positive again and appear to have another infection.

Read More Show Less

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less
Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less
Andrey Nikitin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

Plants are awesome. They brighten up your space and give you a living thing you can talk to when there are no humans in sight.

Turns out, having enough of the right plants can also add moisture (aka humidify) indoor air, which can have a ton of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

The office of Rover.com sits empty with employees working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 in Seattle, Washington. John Moore / Getty Images

The office may never look the same again. And the investment it will take to protect employees may force many companies to go completely remote. That's after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for how workers can return to the office safely.

Read More Show Less