In effort to reduce teen vaping, Kaine pushes bill raising federal smoking age

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Coleman Wheeler

FILE – In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 file photo, a customer blows a cloud of smoke from a vape pipe at a local shop in Richmond, Va. Although e-cigarettes aren’t considered as risky as regular cigarettes, new research published Monday, May 27, 2019, finds a clue that their flavorings may be bad for the heart. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Starting next week, people under the age of 21 will be prohibited from purchasing all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, in Virginia. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke during a roundtable Monday about his bipartisan effort to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products nationwide.

In an effort to tackle the youth vaping epidemic and allow states to enforce stricter restrictions, Sen. Kaine and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) introduced the Tobacco-Free Youth Act in May.

Sen. Kaine met with healthcare leaders as well as youth advocates in Henrico County to discuss the bill. The goal of the proposed legislation applies not only to cigarettes but also works to break the habit of younger people using electronic cigarettes and vaping.

“Really put the enforcement burden more on the retailer than the young person getting tobacco whose underage,” Sen. Kaine said.

8News spoke with a local business owner about the impact the legislation banning people under 21 from buying tobacco in Virginia will have on their business.

“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be scary,” Kishan Devani.

Devani has run The Cigarette Store on Forest Hill Avenue for the last 15 years. He says the store’s customer base will shrink next week.

“People will come and now I’m going to say I’m sorry I can’t sell you any cigarettes or vape or tobacco,” Devani told 8News. “Yes, we’re going to lose business. We’re going to lose that market between 18-21. But like I said what can we do.”

The bill introduced by Sens. Kaine and McConnell differs from Virginia’s new law. The Tobacco-Free Youth Act does not include a military exemption and offers incentives for states through substance abuse funding.

Sen. Kaine hopes the legislation would motivate teens to stop buying electronic cigarette products like Juul. Sen. Kaine said the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will discuss the Tobacco-Free Youth Act this Wednesday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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