October 1, 2019

As Age of Access for Tobacco Increases to 21, Sen. Abrams Joins Gov. Lamont to Commemorate New Law That Will Protect Youth From Dangers of Smoking

MERIDEN, CT – Today, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) joined Gov. Ned Lamont, Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati, Superintendent Mark Benigni, Senator Mae Flexer, and Representatives Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-Fairfield) and Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) to commemorate a new state law that raises the age of access for tobacco and smoking products from 18 to 21. The “Tobacco 21” law, which goes into effect today, October 1, is the result of an endeavor led by Sen. Abrams and her colleagues to reduce the harm tobacco can cause among the general public.

“As Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee I am proud to have played a role in passing Tobacco 21,” said Sen. Abrams. “This legislation takes significant steps in removing youth access to tobacco products. Most habitual smokers start smoking at a young age. By increasing the age of access of tobacco, we will prevent older students from supplying tobacco products to their younger peers, and reduce the number of future lifelong smokers. As legislators, we have no greater responsibility than protecting the safety of young people in the state. This legislation will provide Connecticut’s youth a better opportunity for a healthy future.”

This legislation comes as data shows an increase in youth and underage tobacco use, specifically of vaping products. Just under 5 million middle and high school students used tobacco in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 20 percent of high school students and 5 percent of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, according to the Surgeon General.

House Bill No. 7200, commonly referred to as “Tobacco 21,” raises the legal purchase age of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping products and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, effective today. In addition to increasing the age of access, the bill increases penalties for tobacco sales to individuals under the age of 21 and bans smoking and e-cigarette use on school and child care center grounds, among other changes.

“This legislation marks a major bipartisan and bilateral success,” Sen. Abrams said. “The passing of ‘Tobacco 21’ was a team effort amongst legislators from both parties and chambers on behalf of the children of our state. As we move towards next session, we must remain vigilant to the continued dangers of tobacco products, specifically vaping products, and continue to work in the best interest of our youth.”