Indiana’s senior senator, Todd Young, has teamed up with a bipartisan group of senators in support of a bill that would raise the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The bill also covers e-cigarettes.
Current law allows residents who are at least 18 years old to legally purchase cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping products. Twelve states, including neighboring Illinois, have raised the minimum legal purchasing age for tobacco products to 21 in recent years.
Young, a first-term Republican, held a press conference with fellow Republican Mitt Romney of Utah and Senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Dick Durbin of Illinois, both Democrats. The lawmakers were flanked with anti-tobacco and public health advocates in support of the bill. The bill is known as the Tobacco to 21 Act.
I was joined by students and public health experts this morning at Carmel High School in support of my #Tobacco21 bill. With roughly 95% of adult smokers beginning before the age of 21, it’s important we confront the vaping crisis in our high schools and middle schools. pic.twitter.com/ewRA5ci2HH— Senator Todd Young (@SenToddYoung) May 10, 2019
“This is especially important in my home state of Indiana where tobacco use is the single-most preventable cause of death and disease. In fact, the state of Indiana ranks 45th in the country in terms of tobacco usage. I know we can improve on that,” Senator Young said. “With the advent of e-cigarettes and the uptake of vaping, especially among young Americans, it’s essential we act now.”
The legislation was introduced last week. Raising the minimum purchasing age to 21 has received the support from national organizations like the American Lung Association, which maintains that it would save thousands of lives.
“$300 billion per year can be attributed to smoking-related illnesses,” Young added. “So we need to bring down health care costs. This is the best public policy measure we can take in the near term to bend the cost curve down.”