​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.​


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​In December 2019, federal legislation was passed to raise the minimum age of purchase for all tobacco products, including e-vapor, to 21.
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Moving the legal age of purchase for all tobacco p​roducts to 21 is the most important step to addressing  the youth vaping crisis. This landmark legislation will protect youth by preventing social access, while also protecting the enormous harm reduction potential of e-vapor products for millions of adult smokers 21 and older. We appreciate the leadership of bipartisan lawmakers who seized this opportunity and passed this legislation.”
- Howard Willard, Chairman & CEO, Altria Group, Inc.​
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​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 in the U.S. turn 18 before they graduate, making them a legal age consumer. ​By raising the minimum age to 21, almost no high school student should be able to purchase tobacco products legally.​

History shows that it takes time for programs and policies to have a measurable effect, as demonstrated by underage cigarette use rates in the 1990s. Concerted efforts by political leaders, health officials, educators, manufacturers, retailers and others took five years to drive down underage use of cigarettes. Today, underage use of cigarettes is at historical lows​.​

 

 
 

 

​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.
There is a growing public health consensus that products that do not burn and produce no smoke are significantly less harmful than conventional cigarettes.  Raising the legal age of purchase to 21 is important for preserving the reduced harm potential of non-combustible technologies. 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​
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​Helping Reduce Underage Tobacco Use
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Tobacco Harm Reduction Teaser Image
Harm Reduction
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