A bill introduced in the Senate on Monday would raise the legal age for buying tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. "Youth vaping is a public health crisis," said Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader. "It's our responsibility as parents and public servants to do everything we can to keep these harmful products out of high schools and out of youth culture." McConnell, of Kentucky, introduced the legislation with Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, CNN reports; both represent states that are leading producers of tobacco, which has been diminishing in importance for decades. The senators cited studies showing a worrisome surge in vaping among teenagers.
Fourteen states already have raised the minimum age, per CNBC, an effort supported by vaping and cigarette companies Altria, British American Tobacco, and Juul. Similar legislation has been endorsed by public health groups, including the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association. The Heart Association said Monday it supports the McConnell-Kaine bill. "We are coming together to side with young people's health," Kaine said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2018 survey found that the number of high school seniors who were using tobacco products at the time was up about 38% over the year before. The CDC attributed the increase to e-cigarettes; the number who had vaped recently jumped about 78%. (The FDA has targeted flavored e-cigarettes.)