Proposal would raise minimum age to buy tobacco, e-cigarettes, vapes from 18 to 21

Wisconsin lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill that would limit the sale of vaping and other tobacco products to people under age 21.

The Assembly committee on substance abuse and prevention held a hearing on the bipartisan proposal Wednesday.

“Even families don’t understand how dangerous the vaping products are or what’s in them. I think there’s a lot of parents that don’t understand there’s nicotine and other items that are in this product,” said one of the bill’s authors, Rep. John Spiros.

A committee hears testimony on a bipartisan bill to raise the sales age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. 25 groups, including the Wisconsin Medical Society, American Heart Association and Badger State Sheriffs’ Association, are registered in favor. #news3now

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) November 6, 2019

The measure would increase the minimum age for buying products containing nicotine and tobacco from 18 to 21. It would also prohibit anyone from selling or providing vaping paraphernalia, such as vape pens, to anyone under 21.

“I think it would make a huge deal because 18 — that’s seniors. Those are still in our high schools. There aren’t a lot of kids that I know that hang out with college kids,” said Bryn Dresselhuys, a freshman at Whitefish Bay High School.

Proponents argue the proposal would stunt the growth in popularity of e-cigarettes among young people. Use by high school students is increasing despite concerns about damage the chemicals in the devices may cause to the heart and lungs.

Nearly 95 percent of smokers start before they turn 21, according to the American Heart Association. It’s one of 25 groups registered in support of the proposal.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network opposes the bill. The organization says it applauds raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products but says it fails to address enforcement of the law as retailers of all products are not required to be licensed.

The bill would have to pass both the Senate and Assembly and be signed by Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law.

The @ACSCANWisconsin, Cigar Association of America and Florida-based SI Group Client Services are all registered against the proposal. #news3now

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) November 6, 2019

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