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Delaware’s Governor Signs Tobacco Purchasing Age Increase Bill

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Today, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law a piece of legislation that will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old, making his state the latest to join the rapidly growing group supporting the Tobacco 21 movement.

The bill, S.B. 25, passed the Delaware House of Representatives by a 25-16 vote last week, while the Senate approved the bill on March 19 by a 14-6 vote with one member absent. Following the bill’s passage in the legislature, Carney issued a statement following the House’s vote, saying that he looks forward to signing the bill soon:

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Preventing smoking is the best thing we can do to improve the health of our state, and reduce the growth of health care costs over time. The use of tobacco-related products is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Delaware and across the country. Tobacco-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and heart disease, claim the lives of 1,400 Delawareans each year, and treatment of those illnesses costs Delaware families, businesses and the State more than $530 million annually. We expect this legislation will help curb the impact of smoking on Delaware families by preventing more young Delawareans from picking up this dangerous habit in the first place. I want to thank members of the General Assembly for their partnership on this important legislation, and I look forward to signing this bill into law soon.

With his signature now on the bill, the increase will go into effect in 90 days.

In addition to the age increase, the bill also removes language in existing laws that would allow parents to buy tobacco products for their children, and also removes fines for those caught attempting to buy tobacco if they are not of age, instead solely punishing the retailers who are caught selling tobacco products to those under the age of 21. Fines start at $250 and could escalate to $1,000 for retailers with multiple offenses.

Delaware joins Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maine, MassachusettsVirginiaUtah, Illinois and Washington to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21-years-old. New York and Maryland have also passed similar legislation that is waiting on the signatures from its governor, while Iowa, Texas and several other states are getting close to passing their own bills. There is also legislation at the federal level seeking to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21-years-old.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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