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Congress Passes Spending Bill That Raises Tobacco, E-Cigarette Buying Age To 21

Congress Passes Spending Bill That Raises Tobacco, E-Cigarette Buying Age To 21

The age for buying tobacco and e-cigarettes will rise from 18 to 21 in the United States under a budget measure passed by Congress Thursday.

Trump Plans To Sign Bill 

The measure, the most dramatic change in the tobacco product law in more than a decade, is part of a $1.4-trillion spending bill needed to fund the government through Sept. 30.

The bill, which passed the House earlier in the week, was approved Thursday by the Senate. The White House has said President Donald Trump will sign the legislation, which was needed to prevent a government shutdown.

Backed By Big Tobacco

The part of the bill raising the tobacco purchase age passed with surprising support from the tobacco giant Altria Group Inc (NYSE: MO) and from Juul Labs, the company that sells most of the e-cigarettes in the country and is partly owned by Altria. 

The companies backed the legislation, called the Tobacco 21 bill, in the face of renewed criticism over their products as vaping has grown immensely in popularity among young people and as the country faced an outbreak of lung illnesses and deaths from vaping this summer.

The outbreak has been linked to marijuana e-cigarettes containing vitamin E acetate.

Critics said the companies' backing of the new age restrictions was aimed at preventing further regulation, including perhaps a ban on flavored tobacco products that some health advocates had sought.

Shift For Altria

Altria, which is the largest cigarette company in the country, supported the measure after years of defending the purchase age of 18 for its products. The company said the new higher buying age is a quick way to address the rapid increase in the number of minors who have taken up vaping.  

Several states had already moved on their own to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products. At least 18 states and the District of Columbia had already passed laws raising the age to 21, and 16 of those laws are in effect.

Altria shares were down 0.74% at $50.98 at the time of publication Thursday. 

Related Links:

Which Tobacco Companies Are Most Exposed To E-Cigarette Headwinds?

Trump Changes Course On Flavored Vape Ban

Posted-In: cigarettes E-Cigarettes JUULGovernment News Health Care Politics General Best of Benzinga


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