As of Sept. 1, residents must be 21-years-old to purchase tobacco in the state of Vermont. The change in legal age from 18 to 21 is thanks to legislation passed earlier this year, and includes the use of e-cigarettes and vape products, in addition to all tobacco products, tobacco substitutes or tobacco paraphernalia.
“As students head back to classrooms this week, parents and teachers will know that the State of Vermont is taking steps to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic and prevent tobacco use,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association.
According to the American Lung Association, close to 2,500 youth under 18 try their first cigarette every day and more than 400 kids become regular daily smokers. Two-thirds of 10th grade students and nearly half of 8th grade students say it is easy to get cigarettes. Because students typically do not reach 21 years old while still in high school, Vermont’s new law is expected to greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products.
Vermont’s Tobacco 21 law was introduced by State Senators Virginia Lyons and Deborah Ingram, following a December 2018 announcement by the U.S. Surgeon General alerting the public that youth e-cigarette use had reached epidemic levels.
According to the announcement, e-cigarette use increased by 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018.
The report warned that this dramatic change in youth tobacco use could set the stage for another generation of Americans addicted to tobacco products and ultimately more tobacco-caused death and disease.
The Vermont legislature passed the bill in April and was signed by Governor Scott on May 16, 2019.
Vermont is the 18th state to pass a law raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21.