Tobacco 21 bill headed to Governor’s desk

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Tobacco 21 bill headed to Governor's desk

A bill is headed to Governor Phil Scott’s desk that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21 in Vermont.

“Kids and tobacco just don’t mix,” said Jennifer Costa, government relations director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. 

If passed, the bill would take effect on September 1st. That date was pushed back one month to give retailers and the general public more time to prepare for the change.

Since the legislature last took the bills up in 2017, the CDC has reported a 78% rise in e-cigarette use across the country. In Vermont, 1 in 3 teens have tried vaping in the last year, something that’s concerning to health professionals who are still researching the effects of the product. 

“Some of the stuff you get at a vape shop has been approved by the FDA for consumption, by swallowing but not by inhalation,” said Doctor Prospero Gogo, a cardiologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center. “When super heated, a bi product could include formaldehyde or anti freeze.” 

He said people who vape are at a higher risk for a heart attack. 

“You can be in class tapping your feet like ‘I need to find someone with a stick'” said Abraham Olsen, a junior at Burlington High School. “It really does affect your everyday life.” 

Olsen said he vapes regularly. At only 16 years old, he’s depended on older friends to help him get the cartridges. He said the idea of doing that for 5 more years may make him quit. 

“It might actually help me stop doing those things,” Olsen said.  

Two other bills would restrict the online sale of e-cigs and place a 92% wholesale tax on the products, both in efforts to keep them out of kids’ hands.

“We believe by taking these three actions of raising the age, restricting access, and making it more expensive, less kids will start a deadly addiction,” Costa said. 

Governor Scott said he will sign the bill which would make Vermont the 15th state to pass a Tobacco 21 law. 

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