On December 20, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tobacco 21 — a law that raises the legal age of smoking and vaping to 21 — with this official statement: “The President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.”
Reports of a national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), began in June 2019, bringing teenage vaping into the spotlight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pointed to toxic chemicals in vaping products, particularly vitamin E acetate, as leading to the injuries.
On December 20, the CDC released new findings: 54 EVALI-related deaths and 2,506 hospitalized EVALI cases (as of 12/17/19) reported in the US in 2019.
In mid-June of this year, several states increased the age limit for purchasing e-cigarettes to between 18 and 21, with eight states upping the age limitation to 21. States like New York and Michigan took further steps, banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
The CDC has reported a decrease in cases as of September of this year, but issued this warning on December 20:
“Although we are seeing progress in the investigation and response, we must remain vigilant. National data show that certain groups of EVALI patients released from the hospital are more likely to be rehospitalized or die.”
The statement continued, “Characteristics of EVALI patients who were readmitted or died following hospital discharge indicate that some chronic medical conditions, including cardiac disease, chronic pulmonary disease, and diabetes as well as increasing age might be risk factors leading to higher morbidity and mortality among some EVALI patients.”
Currently in question — when the legislation, known as the Tobacco 21 Law, will be enacted. From its December 20 signing by President Trump, the legislation gives the FDA six months to amend current policies; 90 days after this, the age limitation should go into effect.