Scanlon Celebrates New "Tobacco 21" Law

October 2, 2019

Rep. Sean Scanlon celebrated Connecticut’s “Tobacco 21” law that took effect Oct. 1. The new law raises the minimum age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. He also called for state government to take further action to address the dramatic increase in vaping among young people.

Scanlon, a member of the legislature’s Public Health Committee and co-sponsor of the legislation, believes the law will help stop a surge in tobacco and nicotine use by youths.

“The real vaping crisis in this country is not the recent outbreak of illnesses but the dramatic rise of e-cigarette use among young people,” Scanlon said. “By raising the age to buy tobacco products, we will help combat this growing problem and prevent teens from making the same mistake I did.”

Scanlon said he began smoking cigarettes as a high school student because he and others “foolishly thought it was cool.” While attitudes toward actual cigarettes have changed since then, Scanlon said today’s generation of middle and high school students now see vaping as the cool thing to do.

“Thanks to deceptive marketing practices and exotic flavors, most teenagers today do not understand the health risks of vaping,” Scanlon said. “They don't realize that one Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes."

Recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual National Youth Tobacco Survey showed 27.5 percent of American high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, up from 20.8 percent in 2018 and 11.7 percent in 2017.

Scanlon Calls For Disposable E-Cigarette Ban

Scanlon said he hopes the state will take further action to address the teenage vaping problem either in the form of an executive order by the governor or by legislative action.

He said that while the state should consider banning flavored products – something President Trump has indicated he may instruct the FDA to do – Scanlon said a better solution would be to ban all disposable e-cigarettes. Disposable e-cigarettes such as Juul and Blu are used most commonly by teenagers as opposed to traditional and larger e-cigarette devices sold at vape shops. They are also, Scanlon said, what people commonly use to vape THC oil.

“It's our job to protect public health but we need to strike a balance between addressing an issue and going too far,” Scanlon said. “I believe raising the age to 21 and banning the disposable e-cigarettes used by teens and sold at gas stations and convenience stores will dramatically reduce our teen vaping problem without infringing on the ability of adults to use more traditional e-cigarette devices.”