State residents younger than 21 may be banned from buying tobacco, e-cigarettes or vapor products under a law being considered by the Connecticut General Assembly.
The state has a near national average rate of high school smoking despite a well-below national average rate of adult smoking.
The state imposes one of the highest taxes in the country, at $3.90 per pack. Given the average rate of high school smoking and the low rate of adult smoking, however, it appears Connecticut is not making progress in tobacco prevention.
Currently, 1,500 children become daily smokers each year, and an estimated 56,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die due to smoking. The result is an annual health care cost of $2 billion that is caused by smoking, with an additional $1.25 billion in lost productivity.
Despite this, the state only spends 6.8% of the Centers for Disease Control recommended amount on tobacco prevention and spent no state funds on funding for tobacco prevention programs in 2017.
Regardless of what state lawmakers do, local governments are free to enact ordinances to better protect their kids from addiction.
Connecticut's legislative Public Health Committee approved the change with significant bipartisan support on Monday, March 26.
The bill will likely move to the Senate for a vote in the coming months. The proposed law, which raises the legal age for purchase of the products from 18, would take effect on Oct. 1.
Raising the age to 21 has been proposed many times before, but was never passed.
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