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Kaine Bill To Raise Tobacco Age To 21 Included In Government Funding Deal

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released the following statement on the news that his bipartisan legislation with Senate Majority Leader McConnell to raise the tobacco age to 21 will be voted on as part of the appropriations package in the House and Senate this week:

“I’m thrilled that our bill to raise the tobacco age from 18 to 21 will get a vote in the House and Senate this week. This legislation will have an enormous positive impact on public health in America, and it’s needed now more than ever as we grapple with the youth e-cigarette epidemic. It’s estimated that raising the tobacco age to 21 would reduce the number of premature deaths by 223,000 and significantly reduce lung cancer deaths and other health problems. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their work on this critical effort – including Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Senators Murray, Alexander, Schatz, Young, Durbin, and Romney. I hope we can get this lifesaving bill across the finish line without delay,” Kaine said.

“Since I introduced my legislation earlier this year to raise the minimum nationwide purchase age for tobacco products from 18 to 21, stories of vaping related illnesses and deaths -- especially among young people -- have stunned Kentucky and the nation,” McConnell said. “I’m grateful to the communities, the businesses and my fellow elected officials who joined Senator Kaine and me to address this urgent crisis and keep these dangerous products away from our children. It is because of my position as a tobacco state Senator that I introduced this bill, and it is because of my role as Senate Majority Leader that it will become law. Together, we can help Kentucky’s young people grow up healthy and with every opportunity to reach their full potential.”

The Tobacco-Free Youth Act would raise the nationwide minimum age to buy all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The bill passed the HELP Committee in June. Kaine has a long track record of promoting public health and battling tobacco use. As Governor of Virginia, Kaine signed a bill into law to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in the Commonwealth, as well as an executive order to ban smoking in state buildings and vehicles. Over the past few months, Kaine has held roundtables in Arlington, Harrisonburg, and Henrico to discuss efforts to address the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.