Lamont signs bill increasing Connecticut’s smoking age to 21

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Gov. Ned Lamont has signed legislation that increases the age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.

The bill signed into law Tuesday by the Democrat also prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes and vaping products to anyone under 21. The new law takes effects on Oct. 1. Connecticut is now the 16th state to raise the age to 21.

Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, says such “Tobacco 21” laws are “more important than ever” given the increase in youth e-cigarette use. He says adolescents and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction, making Connecticut’s legislation “an important, life-saving measure.”

Related: State sues e-cigarette maker, says it targets youth market

The law also bans smoking on the grounds of child care centers and schools.

Smoking and Vaping has become an epidemic in some high and middle schools across Connecticut. The principals were forced to close the bathrooms to prevent students from sneaking a puff in there. Pediatrician and city counselor Larry Deutsch was leading the charge.

“Everyone should know that for vaping and e-cigarette’s sometimes they can have more nicotine than the regular cigarettes that we are also trying to have them not smoke,” Deutsch said.

Also, doctors at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center said raising the age of 21 is a good first step, but restricting how the tobacco and vaping companies market to teens on the Internet needs to be looked at next.

Dr. Trisha Garcia said, “Because youth really live on social media, it’s a big venue where how e-cigarette’s and other vaping products are marketed towards youth.”

Critics of the legislation have complained it violates the rights of adults ages 18 to 21.

While Hartford was the first to raise the age, merchants say underage teens can just go to the next town over. 

Ray Rayashey runs Sam’s Quick Stop. He said, “If they made it state wide? I would agree with them yes. If it is all around us, the cities around us, it will be a benefit of everybody, but if it’s just one city it’s the wrong idea.” 

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