U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Tim Kaine have filed a bill to raise the nationwide age to buy tobacco products to 21, reports USA Today.
“The latest threat … is an epidemic among teenagers and even middle school students using tobacco products and vaping,” McConnell said. “It includes nicotine and runs the risk of hooking these children at a very early age to a lifetime of using tobacco products.”
McConnell initially had said he would exempt members of the military from the bill but reconsidered after discussions with constituents and public health advocates.
“On further reflection, I decided the military carve-out made no sense,” McConnell said.
His bill also does not preclude state or local governments from enacting tougher laws.
McConnell had previously announced his intent to sponsor the Tobacco 21 legislation at a news conference in Kentucky, citing his concern about rising youth rates of e-cigarettes that contain high doses of nicotine.
Additionally, Louisiana’s House committee approved yesterday a Tobacco 21 plan that is now heading to the House floor for debate. The Louisiana plan, however, includes a military exemption. Fourteen states have already raised the tobacco buying age to 21.