Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) yesterday filed a bill that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including premium cigars, to 21 years old.
While the official text for H.R. 2084, titled "Stopping Consumption of Tobacco by Teens," or the SCOTT Act, is not yet available, according to Aderholt the measure aims to reduce youth access to tobacco products.
“Smoking is just as much of a danger to health and life as drinking, and even more so to those who are still young and impressionable,” said Aderholt in a press release. “This is why I have introduced a bill in Congress to increase the age to legally buy tobacco products to 21. Will this keep all cigarettes out of the hands of teens and young adults? No, but it will make it more difficult during an age range when most lifetime smokers say they first started the habit.”
In the past, Aderholt has been an advocate for the premium cigar industry. In 2016, he added a rider to an appropriations bill, which ultimately failed, that sought to exempt premium cigars from the predicate date in the FDA’s Final Deeming Rule.
The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer’s association is backing Aderholt’s new bill. “IPCPR understands and supports efforts to restrict youth access to tobacco and other nicotine products,” said Scott Pearce, IPCPR executive director. “Because premium cigars and pipes are crafted and enjoyed very differently from nicotine delivery systems, we seek solutions that will answer the problem while respecting the standards by which our retail members operate and our adult consumers behave. Our retail members have demonstrated over the years the highest levels of excellence with strict adherence to ID laws. In fact, many of our members go way beyond what is required to ensure only adults are purchasing and enjoying premium cigars and pipes.”
In the past few years, the minimum age to purchase tobacco products has become a bit of a hot-button issue at both the state and local level. Nine states—Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine
Massachusetts, Arkansas, Virginia and Utah—have raised the tobacco age to 21, along with 450 localities, including New York City, Chicago, San Antonio, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, both Kansas Cities and Washington, D.C.