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State Senator

Saud Anwar

Representing East Hartford, Ellington, East Windsor and South Windsor

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

MERIDEN, CT – Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) joined numerous legislators, including Governor Ned Lamont, 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 effort to reduce the harm tobacco can cause among the general public.

“As a physician, I see all too often the damage and pain caused to patients by smoking tobacco,” said Sen. Anwar. “Cigarette and vaping addiction can cause serious lung and heart damage and increase the chance of developing cancers. Any effort we can use to reduce tobacco use, especially among susceptible members of the youth, will play an important role in improving health among our communities. As Senate Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, I support any effort like this that will keep tobacco and nicotine away from our youth.”

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 comes as data shows an increase in youth and underage tobacco use, specifically of vaping products. In recent weeks, states reported seeing increased numbers of lung diseases and lung damage directly related to vaping products. While youth tobacco use is down, 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.

The law 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.

Today, Connecticut becomes the 12th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to raise the age of access to 21.

 

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