Hartford, CT (Oct 1, 2019) – A new law goes into effect on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, throughout the State of Connecticut, raising the age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The American Lung Association applauds state lawmakers for passing the law, known as Tobacco 21, that will prevent and reduce tobacco use, address the youth vaping epidemic and save lives.
“Today Connecticut became the latest state to enact legislation raising the age of sale of all tobacco products to 21. Momentum around the Tobacco 21 effort continues to grow nationwide - and we are proud to see more and more states follow Connecticut's example and adopt legislation to protect children and teenagers from a lifetime of tobacco-related death and disease,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “With youth vaping at epidemic levels, laws that limit youth access and exposure to e-cigarettes and all tobacco products are vital in empowering our children to live long, healthy, tobacco-free lives. The American Lung Association will continue the fight for Tobacco 21 laws across the country, as well as those that encourage future generations to be tobacco-free. Congratulations to Connecticut on this public health milestone.”
Every day, close to 2,500 youth under 18 try their first cigarette and more than 400 kids become regular daily smokers. Two-thirds of 10th grade students and nearly half of 8th grade students say it is easy to get cigarettes. According to a National Academy of Medicine report, younger kids often rely on older friends, classmates and peers to buy their tobacco products. Because students typically do not reach 21 years old while still in high school, Connecticut’s new law is expected to greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products.
Connecticut’s Tobacco 21 law received bipartisan support, following a December 2018 announcement by the U.S. Surgeon General alerting the public that youth e-cigarette use had reached epidemic levels. According to the announcement, e-cigarette use increased by a staggering 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018. In new preliminary data from the National Tobacco Youth Survey, e-cigarette use soared by another 32 percent among high school students from 2018-2019 showing that 27.5 percent of high school users have used e-cigarettes in the last month. Tobacco 21 is a policy being rolled out in states across the country in order to prevent another generation of Americans from becoming addicted to tobacco products and to suffer from tobacco-related death and disease.
The Connecticut legislature passed the legislation in May and it was signed by Governor Lamont on June 18, 2019. To date, 18 states (including Connecticut) have taken the important step to protect their kids against this threat by raising the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21.
Ruth Canovi, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut, said, "With nearly 18 percent of Connecticut’s high school students reporting use of tobacco products, there is no doubt that Tobacco 21 will make a difference for Connecticut’s younger generations. The grassroots movement that made this happen in Connecticut also helped raise valuable awareness about the health impact of tobacco products on our young people and families.”