On Friday, the Connecticut Senate gave its approval to HB 7200, a bill seeking to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the state to 21-years-old. It will now head to Gov. Ned Lamont for his signature, which he has indicated he will give.
The Senate voted 33-3 in favor of the increase. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives in mid-May by a 124-22 vote.
The bill also includes an increase on the amount due for a tobacco dealer’s license, raising the annual fee from $50 to $200, while making modifications to the ways retailers would be punished for selling to an under age person. Fines for selling or giving tobacco products to a person under 21 would go up as well; the maximum for a first offense would go up from $200 to $300, while a second offense would jump from $300 to $750. A third violation would double from $500 to $1,000.
Persons under 21-years-old who attempt to purchase tobacco or e-cigarettes would still face a maximum fine of $50.
Following the Senate’s passage of the bill, Gov. Lamont issued a statement applauding the vote. “When our laws surrounding tobacco products were written several decades ago, the medical evidence about the impact of the substance did not exist,” the governor wrote. “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.”
Once the bill is signed by the governor, the increase will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019 and Connecticut will join more than a dozen states in passing similar increases.