Health Care

Kansas set to become latest state to raise age for buying tobacco to 21

The Associated Press
The Biden administration has announced a plan to publish a proposed rule in May 2023 that could eliminate nearly 98 percent of the nicotine found in cigarettes, but critics warn that prohibition doesn’t work as well as harm-reduction tactics in changing people’s habits.

Kansas moved toward raising the legal age for buying tobacco in the state to 21 on Tuesday, a move already made by the majority of other states.

The state Senate passed a bill to raise the required age by a 28-11 vote after the state’s House approved it earlier this month. The bill will now be sent to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) desk for approval.

Congress raised the Minimum Legal Sales Age on all tobacco products from 19 to 21 when it passed the Tobacco 21 law in December 2019. In order for states to receive federal funding for substance abuse prevention programs, they need it to increase their own legal age for purchasing tobacco products — including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes — to 21.

Forty other states and Washington, D.C., have already increased the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to Kansas, the CDC lists Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin as the states that have not raised their legal age yet.

The CDC lists tobacco usage as the leading cause of “preventable disease, disability and death” in the United States.

In 2022, 4.5 percent of middle school students and about 16.5 percent of high school students reported regularly using a tobacco product, according to the CDC. The agency also states that those who use tobacco in their youth are at a “higher risk for developing nicotine dependence,” noting that more than 5 million of Americans younger than 18 today will die early due to an illness caused by smoking.

Tags CDC Kansas Laura Kelly Laura Kelly Tobacco

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