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Tobacco 21 Act Still in Play, Despite Federal Changes

January 21st, 2020 by Jake Stofan

With three out of ten high school students using vaping products lawmakers say a public health crisis is imminent if teen use isn’t addressed.

A billed passed by a Senate committee Tuesday is looking to do just that.

Late last year with the President’s signature, the Federal Government raised the age to purchase nicotine products to age 21.

State Senator Divd Simmons said unless Florida does the same, enforcement will be lacking, leaving teens at risk.

“It’s your children, it’s our children, it’s our grandchildren and the simple fact of it is, where do we start?” said Simmons.

This year’s version of the Tobacco 21 Act, sponsored by Sen. Simmons, would officially raise the age in Florida and regulate vaping products the same as tobacco products.

Vaping companies say they support raising the age, but that this bill puts too many regulations on their businesses while not doing enough to punish bad actors.

One complaint is that it would require face to face delivery for online sales.

“That adds about $6 to $18 for one individual package,” said Gregory Conley with the American Vaping Association.

Vaping companies also argued penalties for shops and adults who sell to minors should be raised.

They also want higher punishments for people under 21 who possess or purchase the products.

“We’re trying to prevent youth access, but what we’re not doing is actually holding youth accountable for breaking the law,” said Edgewater vape store owner Jonathan Risteen.

But health experts have reservations.

“We don’t think, and the data shows, that penalties on youth are particularly effective,” said Paul Hull with the American Cancer Society.

There is a separate bill moving in the Senate that deals with increasing penalties, but none of the recommendations proposed by the vape industry are included.

The Tobacco 21 Act has two more committee stops in the Senate.

It’s yet to receive a hearing in the House.

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