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Senate leaders introduce Tobacco 21 bill

‚ÄčBoth McConnell and Kaine represent tobacco-producing states

On May 20, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced legislation that would raise the federal age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bipartisan Tobacco-Free Youth Act comes amid a public health crisis that has resulted in a 78% spike in youth use of e-cigarettes in recent years.

Raising the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21 is one of several important public policy changes Congress is considering in response to this crisis that the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports. In recent months several lawmakers have brought forward similar bipartisan proposals that would also raise the federal age of sale of tobacco products to 21, as well as prohibit most flavored tobacco products, restrict advertising of tobacco products like e-cigarettes, and grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to collect user fees from all tobacco product manufacturers, including e-cigarette manufacturers.

The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN:

"Today's bipartisan action by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Tim Kaine is another welcome indication that Congress is taking the alarming crisis of increased youth tobacco use seriously and is committed to taking action. Raising the federal age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21 is one of several important federal policy changes necessary to ensure a new generation of Americans do not become addicted to the deadly products sold by the tobacco industry and face increased risk for tobacco-related cancers.

"As this bill advances through the legislative process, it will be crucial that Leader McConnell and Sen. Kaine keep it free of provisions or carveouts that would benefit the tobacco industry. Any federal legislation that advances cannot preempt state or local governments from enacting and enforcing their own strong tobacco control laws, must cover all tobacco products currently on the market or that may be introduced to the market, and must not exempt anyone under the age of 21 from compliance.

"We look forward to working with Majority Leader McConnell, Sen. Kaine and other lawmakers to pass strong tobacco control policies, including Tobacco 21 legislation. If passed, ACS CAN will work with states to make sure legislation raising the age of sale moves forward across the country without any additional policy changes that might negatively impact youth use. Together we can reverse this devastating youth tobacco use trend, protect our children from the dangers of tobacco and a lifelong nicotine addiction, and improve our nation's health."

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society's nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

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