Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Thursday that he will introduce new legislation in May to raise the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

"For some time, I’ve been hearing from the parents who are seeing an unprecedented spike in vaping among their teenage children. In addition, we all know people who started smoking at a young age and who struggled to quit as adults. Unfortunately it’s reaching epidemic levels around the country."
— Sen. Mitch McConell in a statement

The intrigue: The legislation would apply to vaping products. Altria, which owns 35% of the e-cigarette company Juul, expressed support for McConnell's proposed legislation. In a press release, the company said: "This is the most effective action to reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates. Now is the time to move to 21 and we welcome Senator McConnell’s leadership on this important issue."

Juul's CEO Kevin Burns also supports McConnell's legislation. In a statement to Axios, Burns said the company "has been actively supporting legislation to do this at the federal level and in states across the country."

"Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem – sharing by legal-age peers – and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth usage rates. That is why we will continue to work with lawmakers across the country to enact these effective policies."
— Burns

States that have already raised the age minimum to 21:

  • Hawaii
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Virginia
  • Delaware
  • Washington
  • Utah
  • New York

Go deeper: Tobacco use is soaring among U.S. kids, driven by e-cigarettes

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
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Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
10 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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