Age to Purchase Tobacco is now 21

Press Release from the Office of the Governor

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and Department of Public Health Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell are applauding the State Senate for voting to give final approval to legislation today that will prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic delivery systems, and vapor products to persons under the age of 21. The legislation was approved in the House of Representatives on May 16 and will next be transmitted to the governor’s desk.

When Governor Lamont signs the bill in the coming days, Connecticut will become the 14th state to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Governor Lamont said, “When our laws surrounding tobacco products were written several decades ago, the medical evidence about the impact of the substance did not exist. With the rising use of e-cigarettes and vaping products among young people, we are seeing a growing public health crisis. Some have pointed out that raising the age to 21 will result in a net revenue loss to the state, but when it comes to the health of our young people we need to do what is right. I applaud the bipartisan members from each chamber of our state legislature for voting to raise the age. When I sign this into law, we will have taken an important step forward in protecting the health of the youngest members of our communities.”

Lt. Governor Bysiewicz said, “Adolescent brains are particularly vulnerable to damage from nicotine addiction. We all know that smoking leads to various tobacco-related illnesses including lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Considering that nearly nine out of ten smokers start by the time they turn 18, this legislation will help reduce levels of nicotine dependence and over time, decrease the number of tobacco related deaths across our state.”

Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell said, “This is a major step forward for public health in Connecticut. Increasing the age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 is an evidence-based strategy endorsed by many national health and medical organizations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as another effort to help reduce youth tobacco use, which has been increasing at an alarming rate.  Nicotine is easier than ever to ingest for our young people, with the growing popularity of vaping. It has been shown to have adverse health impacts including on brain development. States that have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products have seen decreased usage among 18 to 21-year-olds. We are excited to see these positive results going forward in our state.”

The legislation is House Bill 7200, An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Cigarettes, Tobacco Products, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Vapor Products to Persons Under the Age of Twenty-One.