HARTFORD, CT —The city of Hartford will be the first in the state to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under 21 years of age.
The decision comes after the City Council voted unanimously in favor an ordinance creating a new law at its meeting on Monday. The law will take effect in April of next year.
Many who accuse the tobacco industry of targeting young people hope the state will follow Hartford’s lead.
“We applaud the City of Hartford for this important first step in the fight against Big Tobacco and urge the General Assembly to follow suit and increase the age of sale of tobacco products to 21 statewide,” said Bryte Johnson, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Connecticut.
The ordinance being proposed drew a large crowd for public comment at Monday night’s city council meeting. Doctors, public health officials and teens came out to support raising the age.
Hartford joins six other states and 350 municipalities in raising the age for the sale of tobacco and vaping products to 21.
Students from Achievement First Charter School in Hartford were among the young voices pushing the raise the age for the sale of tobacco to 21 in their city during a well attended public hearing on the issue earlier this month.
“We know the tobacco industry uniquely targets young people to replace consumers dying from their products, and too many of our children are becoming addicted before they even have a chance to grow up,” Johnson said.
He added: “Here in Connecticut, smoking causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths, and nearly 5,000 adults die from their own smoking each year. Increasing the age for the sale of tobacco products is a promising strategy in the effort to keep kids from beginning this deadly addiction, saving both lives and long-term healthcare dollars.”
Fueling momentum to raise the age was the release of a recent state Department of Public Health (DPH) study that showed one out of seven Connecticut high school students reported vaping, a number that is double the amount that was vaping just two years ago.
A total of 14.7 percent of high school students reported vaping in 2017, compared to 7.2 percent in 2015.