Dec 19, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Congress raises age to buy tobacco products to 21

A person in a hoodie with their face covered in smoke. The smoke has a caution sign in the negative space.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Congress voted Thursday to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21 as part of a $1.37 trillion spending measure.

The state of play: The larger funding bill helped to avoid a government shutdown. President Trump signaled he will likely sign it before federal funding runs out Friday at midnight.

The big picture: A national vaping epidemic has consumed the country, with thousands reporting injuries from a mysterious illness and more than 50 people dead as a result. There has been a push to increase the minimum age to smoke to 21 across numerous states, USA Today reports, with 19 states and the District of Columbia already bumping the age limit up.

  • The effort to raise the legal age to buy tobacco has largely been bipartisan, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) pushing the issue. The two introduced the Tobacco-Free Youth Act in May.

Worth noting: Trump has previously flipped his stance on vaping products. He intended to ban flavored e-cigarettes before changing his mind earlier this year.

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