Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have introduced a bill that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 on the federal level.
Last month, McConnel, the Senate Majority Leader, announced that he would introduce a bill on the matter this month. Interestingly, McConnell’s bill is a clean bill, containing no carveouts or exemptions. Many anti-tobacco groups and Democrats worried that McConnell’s bill would contain more favorable language for tobacco companies.
Even McConnell himself said that his bill would exempt those serving in the military, no such exemption is included in the bill text released today.
Instead, the Tobacco-Free Youth Act modifies existing U.S. law replacing “18” with “21.” It is similar to the Tobacco to 21 Act, which was introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators last month.
Since April, four bills have been introduced that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21:
- H.R. 2084 — Introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt, R.-Ala.
- H.R. 2330 — Introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla.
- H.R. 2411/S. 1258 — Introduced by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah; Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.
- Tobacco-Free Youth Act — Introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Due to McConnell’s position as Senate Majority Leader and Kaine’s role on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, it’s likely this bill will get a vote on the Senate floor.
Altria and British American Tobacco—two of the three largest tobacco companies in the U.S.—have come out in favor of increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21.