Governor Northam has signed a bill into law that will prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Although ACS CAN applauds our state legislators for their desire to prevent kids from using tobacco, we did not support this legislation.
ACS CAN's work on this issue in multiple states has shown that the focus needs to be on the sale, not the purchase, of tobacco and e-cigarette products. Penalizing and fining youth who make these purchases has not been proven to effectively reduce tobacco use. Instead it takes the spotlight off Big Tobacco and retailers and shifts it onto the victims—our youth who have been targeted for years by Big Tobacco’s marketing campaigns.
Another major concern is that the new law is that many youth who currently smoke or use e-cigarette products are already nicotine addicted. These addicted smokers may now hesitate to reach out for support in quitting, for fear of being penalized for having purchased these products. Increased funding for youth prevention and cessation programs would have been a more effective way to reduce youth tobacco and e-cigarette use.
ACS CAN will continue to fight for policies and regulations that have been proven to effectively reduce tobacco use by youth.