If you look around you, you will see that vaping and e-cigarette smoking is on the rise. However, momentum is increasing for a nationwide movement to raise the legal age of tobacco purchase from 18 to 21. Experts say the widespread and worrisome teen vaping epidemic is a big catalyst. But so is support from e-cigarette and tobacco companies, which has some health groups feeling uneasy.
Recently, Texas joined other states in enacting the so-called Tobacco 21 policies. Even more cities and counties have raised their legal buying ages and a host of national retailers have instituted corporate policies that resonate with these legislative efforts.
In Texas, the law will raise the buying age for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just proposed similar legislation at the federal level, and particularly cited high levels of teen e-cigarette use as the main motivator for his bill.
McConnell’s reasoning is familiar. The nationwide rising prevalence of vaping has led policymakers and legislators across the US to really sharpen their focus on tobacco and to look more closely at vaping according to many cancer specialists across the US.
On the surface, it looks like a silver lining to a public-health disaster. Though, several health groups are not sure of the fact that tobacco and vaping businesses like Altria and Juul have thrown their weight behind these policies.
Lobbying from Big Tobacco and Big Vape has aided the Tobacco 21 legislation pass in nine states recently. But, as detailed in a May 23 report from investigative journalism nonprofit the Center for Public Integrity, health groups are against some of these proposed laws since they would preempt stricter policies or include such weak enforcement mechanisms or so many exceptions as to make them mainly ineffective. Texas’ law, for instance, includes an exception for military members.