Legislation that would change the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 has passed the Senate.
The final step for this to become a law would be for Gov. Northam to sign off on it.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed HB2748 on Tuesday. This is legislation to address the epidemic of teenage vaping and end teen access to tobacco products by raising the minimum age required to purchase tobacco products in the Commonwealth of Virginia to 21.
The Senate passed the bill with a vote of 32-7 on February 13.
“The Surgeon General has characterized teenage vaping as an ‘epidemic,’ with one-out-of-five high school seniors using these products,” said Speaker Kirk Cox. “By raising the minimum age for purchase to 21, this will have a positive effect on our schools by lessening the chances of teenagers obtaining vaping products from friends and classmates who are already 18.”
Even though teenage use of traditional tobacco products is at an all-time low, self-reported teenage use of vaping doubled last year.
Over 20% of high school seniors reported vaping in the last 30 days in 2018 compared to 11 percent in 2017.
For 10th graders, the rate was 16% in 2018 compared to eight percent in 2017.
For 8th graders, it was six percent in 2018 compared to three percent in 2017.
“Raising the legal age for tobacco purchases to 21 is a common sense way to address this escalating public health concern,” said Delegate Christopher Stolle, M.D. (R-Virginia Beach), who is the patron of House Bill 2748. “The rapid growth of the number of teenagers vaping, at a time when the use of traditional tobacco is at an all-time low, should set off alarms for every parent. This legislation will help to reverse that trend and I thank my colleagues for their support.”