HomeWashington Letter2019 ▶ Federal Tobacco-21 Bills Introduced in Congress
Federal Tobacco-21 Bills Introduced in Congress

This week, bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2411/S.1258) to raise the national legal purchase age for all tobacco products to 21 was introduced in Congress.  On the House side lead sponsors Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) were joined by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jaime Herrera-Beulter (R-WA), Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Bill Flores (R-TX) and Rob Wittman (R-VA).  Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Todd Young (R-IN) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) introduced parallel legislation in the Senate. 

The bill covers all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The bill does not include special provisions to protect the tobacco industry. Further, the bill specifically protects the right of state and local governments to enact and enforce more stringent tobacco control measures.

To date, 12 states have enacted Tobacco-21 laws and several more states are currently considering tobacco 21 legislation. However many of the state bills have included provisions that offer special favors to the tobacco industry, like preemption of stricter city ordinances, exemptions for vaping products, protections for flavored tobacco products or other provisions favorable to the tobacco industry.

In an interesting development, the tobacco industry has recently come out in support of Tobacco 21 legislation at both the state and federal level and has funded a recent advertising campaign support of Tobacco 21. Further, tobacco industry defender and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has recently expressed his support for federal Tobacco 21 legislation and has promised to introduce his own legislation in the near future.

The ATS will continue to advocate for Tobacco 21 legislation and oppose any provisions that provide special protection to the tobacco industry.

Last Reviewed: May 2019