Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a bill Monday to raise the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, a measure they say is aimed at reducing teen use of e-cigarettes.
The move, from senators representing two tobacco-producing states, reflects growing concern that the popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers threatens to reverse what had been decades of declining youth-smoking rates.
“Today, we are coming together to side with young people’s health,” Kaine said in a statement. “With this bipartisan legislation, Senator McConnell and I are working to address one of the most significant public health issues facing our nation today.”
McConnell said smoking should be part of a national debate about children’s health.
“We’ve heard from countless parents who have seen the youth vaping crisis firsthand,” McConnell said in a statement. “ . . . Together, Senator Kaine and I are addressing this public health crisis head-on. By making it more difficult for tobacco products to end up in the hands of middle school and high school students, we can protect our children and give them the opportunity to grow and develop into healthy adults.”
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