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State Senator

Derek Slap

Representing West Hartford, Farmington, Burlington and Bloomfield

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Sen. Slap Stands To Support Raising Connecticut’s Smoking Age To 21

HARTFORD – Today, State Senator Derek Slap (D-West Hartford) stood to support Senate passage of legislation that raises Connecticut’s smoking age – and the age at which someone can purchase vaping or tobacco products -- from 18 to 21.

The legislation is part of a push to counteract the increase of youth smoking, especially youth use of tobacco vaporizers or “vapes” which the U.S. Surgeon General has called an “epidemic.”

“Last winter I hosted an informational forum in teen smoking at Hall High School in West Hartford. It was a bitterly cold evening, but dozens of parents came out to say how scared they are for their children and how concerned they are about creating a new generation of individuals addicted to nicotine,” Sen. Slap told the Senate in support of the bill. “Weeks later I was at Conard High School in West Hartford, and by now parents were demanding that the state take action on what they saw as a public health crisis. The federal government has declared teen vaping an epidemic. What are we supposed to do, stand by and do nothing? This bill represents state government at its best: collaborating, working together, and coming up with a solution that the public has demanded.”

House Bill 7200, also known as “Tobacco 21,” raises the legal age to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping products and other tobacco products in Connecticut from 18 to 21 as of October 1, 2019.

The bill also increases penalties for tobacco sales for individuals under the age of 21, and it bans smoking and e-cigarette use on school and child care center grounds. 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.

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.

The House of Representatives had already approved HB 7200 by a bipartisan 124-22 vote. If signed into law by Governor Lamont, Connecticut would become the 12th state in America to raise the smoking age to 21.

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