Pa. to join 18 states in banning tobacco sales to anyone under 21

Kim Glovas
November 22, 2019 - 1:18 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania will soon join 18 other states in banning the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to those under age 21. However, the bill is not sitting well with anti-smoking advocates.

The American Lung Association says the bill for the most part is fine, but the exception for active-duty military and veterans is not acceptable. 

According to the ALA's Sarah Lawver, statewide "22,000 people die each year due to tobacco products, and strong 'Tobacco 21' legislation has the power to save lives. Unfortunately, this legislation has joined the ranks of some of the weaker bills across the country."

The Veterans Administration estimates there are 200 vets under the age of 20 in Pennsylvania, and another 6,600 between 20 and 24. 

Lawver says, however, the age limit will still help young people who, until now, had easy access to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

"It's something that has worked with other products, such as alcohol, and is a proven policy to decrease that initiation amongst youth for tobacco products," she said.

The ALA says currently, 90% of smokers begin using tobacco before the age of 18. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign the bill next week.