State Pushes To Raise Smoking Age to 21


Justin Schwebel, Staff Writer

A recent bill, authored by Connecticut Senator Mae Flexer, and introduced into the Connecticut General Assembly under the recommendation of The Connecticut Department of Public Health, aims to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

S.B. No. 290, “An Act Concerning The Sale And Purchase Of Tobacco Products, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems And Vapor Products And Signage Concerning The Use Of Such Products And Systems” and companion legislation, H.B. No. 5542, propose many new regulations to the sale and consumption of tobacco/nicotine products.

The most significant of these provision would prevent those under 21 from purchasing cigarettes and other nicotine/tobacco products, including electronic-cigarettes, which are very popular among Staples students .

Lawmakers believe this bill will help to keep cigarettes and other tobacco/nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, out of the hands of younger students.

However, not everyone agrees with this claim. A 17-year-old student who wished to remain anonymous believes raising the age will not keep tobacco/nicotine products away from younger students.

“No, of course [the proposed legislation] won’t be effective at all,” the anonymous student said. “Either way, underage kids will find new ways to obtain products like [nicotine/tobacco]. Raising the age will just piss off the people who smoke and are legal because then they can’t buy it.”

Flexer, the majority whip and representative of  the State’s 29th District believes the law would in fact help to keep these products away from younger students.

“Research conducted by the CDC suggests that the number of children buying tobacco products from peers who are at least 18 years old doubled from 2001 to 2009,” Flexer testified.“By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, we have the opportunity to effectively eliminate a major route utilized by young adults to obtain tobacco products,” Flexer said.

On Thursday, California legislators voted to raise the age to purchase nicotine/tobacco products. California’s decision comes approximately two years after New York that passed similar legislation. As other states and municipalities push to raise the age, others remain strongly opposed to such legislation.

“It’s pointless how you can go to jail, legally buy a firearm and enlist in the military, but now won’t even be able to go buy a pack of cigarettes,” the anonymous student said.  

If the state legislature decides to move forward with S.B. No 290 and H.B. No. 5542, the provisions will take effect on Oct. 1.