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State Senator

Saud Anwar

Representing East Hartford, Ellington, East Windsor and South Windsor

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Senator Anwar Supports Senate Vote To Raise Smoking Age To 21

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) joined the Senate’s passing of legislation raising the smoking age, or age where someone can purchase tobacco products, from 18 to 21. This legislation is part of a push to counteract the increase of youth smoking, especially their use of tobacco vaporizers or “vapes,” which the Surgeon General called an “epidemic” in December 2018.

“In my work as a physician, I have seen first-hand the effects of smoking, and the health problems it brings,” said Sen. Anwar. “Smoking can lead to cancers, heart disease and lung disease, to name just a few. When the vast majority of smokers first use tobacco products in their youth, we owe it to them to increase the age of access. This will vastly reduce the number of high school students who will be able to get these products from their friends and classmates. It’s an important step that will prevent many would-be smokers from becoming addicted before they know the consequences. I thank Senators Mae Flexer and Mary Abrams, Representative Jonathan Steinberg and everyone else who worked hard to protect the future generations of Connecticut. Smoking is not healthy at any age.”

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 on October 1. In addition to increasing the age of access, the bill increases penalties for tobacco sales for individuals under the age of 21 and bans smoking and e-cigarette use on school and child care center grounds, among other changes to current laws.

Businesses found to sell tobacco products to underage patrons will see fines increased from $200 to $300 for first offenses, from $350 to $750 for second offenses, and from $500 to $1,000 for further offenses. They also face a possible revocation of their license to sell tobacco products.

This bill comes as data shows an increase in youth and underage tobacco use, specifically of vaping products. In 2018, more than 3.6 million youth across the United States – including 20 percent of high school students and 5 percent of middle school students – reported using e-cigarettes, according to the Surgeon General. Vaping products also have led to concerns about public health, as they utilize chemicals that are seen as unsafe. They are also often sold with “sweet” flavors, and the chemicals used in those flavors pose additional health risks. The Centers for Disease Control said in 2016 that vaping flavors can facilitate nicotine addiction and simulated smoking behavior.

The bill also closes a significant loophole that will prevent youth access to tobacco products, as it requires online e-cigarette sellers to obtain the signature of someone 21 or older when delivering a package. This prevents underage shoppers from obtaining vapes or other smoking products without having to show identification or prove they’re of age.

Before the bill reached the Senate, the House approved it by a bipartisan 124-22 vote, and 53 Senators and Representatives co-sponsored the legislation. Its approval would make Connecticut the 12th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to raise the age of access to 21.

 

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