The legal age to purchase tobacco products, including handmade cigars, in the United States will be raised to 21 years old under an omnibus spending bill that the Senate approved yesterday to avoid a government shutdown.
President Trump has indicated that he is pleased with the $1.37 trillion measure, and is expected to sign it some time today before the midnight deadline when federal funding runs out.
The new age limit would take effect next September. [Update: In an unexpected development, the new law actually went into effect immediately after Trump signed it.] There was hope that a military exemption would be included in the language, but that did not happen.
The age hike is not exactly a surprise. Earlier this year, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he wanted to increase the age to buy tobacco products as a means to combat the e-cigarette and vaping epidemic that has hit the country. According to the Center for Disease Control’s newest statistics, there has been a confirmed 54 deaths that can be blamed on vaping and e-cigarettes.
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. Nineteen states have already changed their laws to raise the age to 21, and many large municipalities have done the same.
One Senator who was not a fan of the spending package was Republican Ted Cruz. In a Twitter video, the Senator from Texas can be seen lighting up and smoking a cigar as he rails against the bill.