HARRISBURG – The State Senate today approved legislation that would increase the legal age for selling all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from age 18 to 21, according Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34), who said the measure is intended to save lives from smoking-related diseases.
Senate Bill 473 would make it a summary offense for anyone under 21 to purchase any tobacco product, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars and pipe tobacco. If it becomes law, Pennsylvania will join 21 states that have a tobacco and e-cigarette sales age of 21.
“We have seen how dangerous cigarettes are over time and the dangerous of vaping has been in the headlines recently,” Corman said. “This will help ensure that older high school or young college students are not buying these products for their younger friends.”
Corman said the younger that smokers are when they start, the more likely they are to become addicted to nicotine. Corman said nearly nine out of 10 cigarette smokers first try cigarette smoking by age 18, and teen nicotine vaping rates this year are double that of 2017.
Twenty-four percent of Pennsylvania high school teens use e-cigarettes, driving up the state’s overall youth tobacco use rates to over 32 percent.
Corman added that adolescents are especially vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction and appear to show signs of nicotine addiction at lower levels of exposure than adults.
Recent studies have found that “Tobacco-21” laws have been successful in reducing the amount of people aged 18-20 who smoke and could save more than 223,000 lives from deaths related to smoking. More than two-thirds of Pennsylvanians surveyed favor raising the legal age for tobacco sales to 21.
Nationally, in the last 50 years, nearly 21 million people in the United States have died due to tobacco-related illnesses, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.
In Pennsylvania, cigarette smoking causes 22,000 deaths each year.