On Dec. 20, President Trump signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that raises the federal legal age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 27.5% of high schoolers use e-cigarettes on Sept. 11, and the consequences are clear: this law will affect incoming college students in the years to come.
The law includes e-cigarettes, such as JUUL and other vaping products, as well as traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars. Cartridges cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 21, per the new law.
“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so, so we’ll be coming out with something next week very important on vaping,” Trump said on Nov. 8 outside of the White House in footage from C-SPAN.
The Trump administration and FDA also said on Jan. 2 it will ban flavors of vaping cartridges except for menthol and tobacco. This move targets flavored pods, like the ones found in JUUL, that are popular amongst youth audiences for their fruity and sweet flavors. It will not, however, affect other vaping liquids that are sold in adult-only vape shops.
The change went into effect immediately, and places in Athens are readily enforcing the law. Cloud 9 Smoke and Vape Co., a downtown store, stopped allowing customers under 21 into the store effective Jan. 2. According to manager Daniel Lightsey, this change was in accordance with the news of the law’s passage. Five Points Bottle Shop’s Five Points location also has signage stating that it will not sell tobacco products to those under 21.
The change has been in the works since April 2019 when Sen. Mitch McConnell introduced a bill to raise the tobacco purchasing age in response to the teen vaping epidemic. Trump publicly supported the push. Before Trump signed the bill into federal law, 19 states plus the District of Columbia already had “Tobacco 21” laws, which prevented citizens under 21 from buying tobacco in those states.