Next month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will introduce a bill to increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.
“For some time, I’ve been hearing from the parents who are seeing an unprecedented spike in vaping among their teenage children,” said McConnell on Thursday. “In addition, we all know people who started smoking at a young age and who struggled to quit as adults.”
The bill will improve public health and pull Kentucky away from the “tobacco culture” on which it was “so dependent, for so long,” added McConnell.
The proposal, which includes exceptions for young men and women serving in the US military, comes amid what FDA Director Scott Gottlieb has described as an “epidemic” of teenage vaping.
The FDA last September announced a massive ad campaign to prevent middle and high school students from using e-cigarettes and has started cracking down on Juul and other manufacturers whose flashy ads and fruity flavors appeal to kids.
“I hope and expect this legislation to get strong bipartisan support in the Senate,” said McConnell. “As you know, I’m in a particularly good position to enact legislation and this will be a top priority.”
Eleven states have already bumped the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.