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State Senator

James Maroney

Representing Milford, Orange, West Haven and Woodbridge

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

MERIDEN, CT – Today, state Senator James Maroney (D-Milford) joined numerous legislators, including Governor Ned Lamont, in applauding a new state law that increases 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.

“I am proud to stand with my colleagues as we take common-sense steps to protect Connecticut teenagers and youth from these harmful products,” said Sen. Maroney. “As best evidenced by the CEO of Juul Kevin Burn stating ‘don’t vape, don’t use Juul,’ it is clear these products are unsafe and should not be in the hands of minors. Despite that, vaping has become the leading use of tobacco among minors. Something needs to be done, and today with this law becoming effective, we have done something that will keep our youth safe.”

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.

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 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. This prevents underage shoppers from obtaining vapes or other smoking products without having to show identification or prove they’re of age.

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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