Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, from the tobacco state of Kentucky, on Monday unveiled federal legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products in the U.S. from 18 to 21.
The Tobacco-Free Youth Act is a measure that McConnell and his Democratic co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, say is aimed at reducing teen use of e-cigarettes, which the duo call a “public health crisis.”
“It’s our responsibility as parents and public servants to do everything we can to keep these harmful products out of high schools and out of youth culture. We need to put the national age of purchase at 21,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday.
Kentucky and Virginia have the highest rates of death caused by smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reports that from 2017 to 2018, youth e-cigarette users increased by 1.5 million, with more than 1 in 4 high school students having reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days.
Kentucky is the nation’s second-largest tobacco producer.
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