​Supporting 21 as the Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Products​

​Kids should not use or have access to tobacco products, including e-vapor products. After decades of decreases in the underage u​se of tobacco products, use of e-vapor products among kids increased to alarming levels in 2018. This is unacceptable.​


Non-combustible tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco, e-vapor products and heat-not-burn products, offer the 22 million adult smokers who are interested in reduced-risk choices an opportunity to switch from combustible cigarettes. But an increase in underage use of tobacco products may jeopardize this important choice for adult smokers 21+.
We believe that raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase tobacco products is the most effective action to further reduce underage tobacco use and reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates. And we believe this action will help preserve the harm reduction opportunity that these types of products present to adult smokers.​ 


​Reducing Social Access 

​Today, the number one way kids under legal age get tobacco products is through social access – the purchase of products by legal age consumers for use by underage persons.​
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​​Through social access, kids under the legal age ask or are offered tobacco products by classmates, siblings or friends who are above the current minimum age of 18. And in high school, approximately 80 percent of students turn 18 before graduation, making them a legal age consumer.​

Today, 14 states​ have passed or enacted laws to raise the legal minimum age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21. Several other states are considering similar action, which we support. And we continue to have bipartisan conversations on Capitol Hill in support of federal legislation to raise the legal age of purchase.​




​Reducing risk. Expanding choice. ​

​Raising the minimum age to 21 also gives tobacco harm reduction an opportunity to become a reality for millions of adult smokers.​
Tobacco harm reduction is built on the idea that adult smokers who do not quit should be able to get nicotine from products that are less risky than combustible cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco and new and emerging technologies like e-vapor and heat-not-burn tobacco products offer tremendous promise in this area.
Raising the legal age of purchase to 21 is important for preserving the reduced harm potential of non-combustible technologies like smokeless tobacco, e-vapor and heat-not-burn products. There is a growing public health consensus that products that do not burn and produce no smoke are significantly less harmful than conventional cigarettes. While nicotine is addictive, it is the smoke from conventional cigarettes – not the nicotine – that leads to most tobacco-related harm. Smokeless tobacco and​ new and emerging technologies like e-vapor and heat-not-burn tobacco products offer tremendous promise for reducing harm. But FDA has made clear that this harm reduction future cannot be fully achieved without doing more to reverse underage e-vapor use rates.
To read more from our Chairman & CEO, see his February 2019 editorial​ in The Hill. 


​Learn​ More

​Our Testimony: Supporting 21​
​Helping Reduce Underage Tobacco Use
Tobacco Harm Reduction Teaser Image
Harm Reduction