US raises tobacco age to 21

The age to buy tobacco products raised from 18 to 21.

MADISON, Wis. – It is now illegal to sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, to anyone under the age of 21, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

President Donald Trump signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that included raising the federal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention Dr. Michael Fiore said raising the age to purchase tobacco products will protect young teens from permanent damage caused by nicotine.

Every day we have cigarette smokers come into our clinic, and what they say almost universally is that, ‘I rue the day that I started smoking as a teenager,’ Fiore said. So many young people think they’re (invincible). They could have a cigarette or two and it won’t have any effect, but for so many of them, they become addicted as teens, and they’ve got a monkey on their back, often for the rest of their lives.

Fiore said often the country focuses on the more serious affects of cigarettes, such as lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes, but he said smoking causes a range of acute illnesses in teens.

“The benefits of making the age of purchase of all tobacco products 21 is going to be dramatic. It’s going to be immediately. It’s going to be long standing,” Fiore said.

Landon Meske, general manager of Knuckleheads, a tobacco and vape club right next to the University of Wisconsin- Madison, said raising the age limit is the opposite of a solution.

“I don’t think that it’s going to help the problem. I think there is still going to be the same amount of people vaping. I’m just going to see less people up here,” Meske said.

Meske said he predicts that teens will continue to buy products off of their friends and the new legislation will make the black market worse.

“I think the big thing is we need more education out there, just more knowledge, more studies done, long-term studies. There has got to be some other potential solution. This has been done before, and I just don’t think it is going to help.”

Meske said he would be willing to hold educational seminars in the Knuckleheads lounge for those interested in learning about what teens are using.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.