Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont House of Representatives today gave preliminary approval to S.86, raising the legal age for buying and using cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years of age on a vote of 124-14.
Jessica Brumsted (D-Shelburne) presented the bill on the floor of the House, saying, "Our aim is to reduce tobacco use by youth and protect developing brains, which are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction. In the U.S. from 2017-2018, e-cigarette use among high school and middle students increased alarmingly - 78% and 48% respectively. The Surgeon General predicts that 10,000 Vermont youth alive today will die prematurely of tobacco-related illnesses if we fail to change course. We want a strong, healthy future for all of our kids, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”
“Raising the legal age to use tobacco is a public health and an economic issue,” added Speaker of the House, Representative Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). “We know that in order to keep Vermont kids away from tobacco products, we need to keep tobacco products out of the middle and high school supply chain. Twelve other states have already made this change. Yearly, Vermonters, through increased healthcare premiums and as well as taxes, spend $348 Million on the direct medical costs of tobacco-related illness. On top of these direct medical costs, Vermont’s economy suffers another $250 million in lost productivity due to tobacco. The ultimate passage of this bill will improve health outcomes, save lives and save money for both Vermonters and the state.”
“This is the third bill passed thus far this year which focuses on addressing the alarmingly increased usage of tobacco products by our middle school and teenage students,” House Human Services Committee Chair, Representative Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington) noted. “Data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that a teenager who starts using e-cigarettes, (otherwise known as vaping), is four times more likely to become a traditional cigarette smoker than a teenager who does not. Teens get addicted to nicotine at lower levels than adults do and their addiction is more difficult to overcome. A recent survey showed that almost one in three Vermont high school students have tried a vaping product. There are three bills moving through the House and Senate that focus on a multi-pronged approach to addressing each aspect of the vaping epidemic happening among Vermont middle and high school students. The first, H.47, adds the liquids and delivery devices for e-cigarettes and vaping products to the existing excise tax on tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco with the goal of discouraging use among youth, the most price-sensitive consumers. The second, H.26, adds e-cigarettes and vaping products to the existing restriction on internet sales of other tobacco products. The third is the bill voted on today, S.86, which will reduce tobacco use by youth and protect their developing brains, which are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction.”
Source: Office of the Speaker 4.23.2019