Sen. Mitch McConnell announced yesterday that he plans to file a bill to raise the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 years old. The Republican senator from Kentucky, one of the largest tobacco-growing states, said that he plans to file his measure shortly after Congress returns from its late-April recess.
“I hope and expect this legislation to get strong bipartisan support in the Senate,” McConnell said. “As you know, I’m in a particularly good position to enact legislation and this will be a top priority.”
The Senate Majority Leader added that vaping products and teenage nicotine addiction were the main reasons he wants to increase the age limit. His bill, though, will cover all tobacco products, including cigars.
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. Twelve states—Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Illinois, Virginia, Delaware, Washington 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.
Recently, Congress has also started to shine a spotlight on upping the minimum age to buy tobacco. Earlier in April, Rep. Robert Aderholt filed a bill that seeks to increase the minimum age to 21, and just this week, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. also announced a bill that boosts the legal age.