Tobacco was once, and still is, in large part, the lifeblood of Virginia. One of the largest tobacco companies in the world, Altria, has its headquarters in Richmond. Despite tobacco’s place in the state’s history, Virginia lawmakers recently passed a law to raise the age to buy tobacco products, nicotine vapor products (such as electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, and other similar devices) to 21.
The bipartisan bill passed both the House and Senate with majority votes. Now, the bill has been signed of Virginia governor Ralph Northam, a pediatrician by occupation, into law.
The bill is a response to report about the rise in teenage tobacco use. The CDC reported last week that 4.9 million young people admitted to using some tobacco product in 2018. That number is up from 3.6 million in 2017. Teenage e-cigarette users are more likely to try regular cigarettes. Worse, they never would have tried cigarettes had it not been for e-cigs.
Alarmed by these recent findings, GOP legislators put forth the bill. The new law aims to prevent older teenagers from buying and then passing on tobacco products and nicotine vapor products to younger teens.
Exemption for Active Duty Military Personnel
The 18-years-old military individual that can provide valid identification would be able to purchase mentioned tobacco products.
Virginia Vaping and Smoking Age: Critics of the Law
If the bill becomes law, anyone under the age of 21 caught buying tobacco products and nicotine vapor products faces a fine of $100, the first time. Any later violation of the law carries a $250 and the possibility of community service.
Shop owners caught selling to underage customers face fines of up to $500. The bill has its critics though not the conventional ones. Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, and makers of Marlboro supports the bill.
Six other states like Hawaii and California, as well as the District of Columbia, have already raised the minimum age to 21. The District also raised taxes on cigarettes, making them one of the highest in the country.