U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is calling for the federal government to adopt its own Tobacco 21 law.
Durbin is among four members of Congress pushing to raise the federal legal age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21 in a bipartisan bill introduced last week.
Speaking at a joint conference in Washingto, D.C., on Wednesday, Durbin said cigarette smoking among kids is down 20% from 2000, at less than 8%.
“E-cigarette use among children has been increasing at alarming rates, largely because of kid-friendly flavoring,” Durbin said. “In 2018, e-cigarette use increased by 80% among high school students, 50% among middle schoolers across America.”
The Illinois Democrat wants to put an end to tobacco and vaping companies targeting children with flavors like “s’mores galore,” “gummy bears,” and “cotton candy.”
He said the best way to reduce smoking rates is by limiting access and appeal.
“Raising the tobacco age to 21, as a dozen states including Illinois recently did, will make it harder for teens to get their hands on these deadly products,” he said. “It’s long past time that this be done at the national level.”
Durbin said “Tobacco to 21” is only the first step in preventing tobacco companies from marketing to kids.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed the statewide Tobacco 21 measure last month. The state law goes into effect July 1.
The Town of Normal first placed restrictions on selling tobacco and vaping products to consumers under the age of 21 last fall. Bloomington listed tobacco 21 considerations on its agenda shortly after, but no further action was taken.
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