Senator Stevens introduces Legislation increasing the minimum age for tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21

    Vape stock image

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - On Wednesday, Senate President Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) introduced Senate Bill 89, which seeks to increase the minimum age to buy, sell, and possess tobacco and E-cigarettes from 19 to 21 years old, and also places a point-of-sale (retail sales) tax on electronic smoking products (ESPs).

    The tax would apply to closed-system ESPs when sealed and sold as a disposable unit, or otherwise only to the liquid when sold separately from other hardware components.

    In December 2019, Congress passed, and the President signed into law a provision raising the national age of sale and possession for all tobacco, nicotine, and ESP products to age 21 without exceptions. Updating Alaska statutes from 19 to 21 to mirror the federal minimum age of sale and possession of these products will allow our state enforcement program to become more effective.

    “Taking additional steps to prevent illegal vendor sales is a critical part of the overall effort to reduce youth smoking and preventing Alaskans from becoming long-term smokers,” said Sen. Gary Stevens. “We continue to see the tobacco use rate incline, especially among young Alaskans getting access to vaping products. Alaska has an active underage sales enforcement program which has reduced sales of smoking products to minors, but more steps are required to see Alaska’s tobacco use rate decline, especially among young Alaskans.”

    The Department of Health’s Tobacco Facts 2022 Update notes that vaping is an increasing trend among Alaska high schoolers, citing that 26% of that population regularly use e-cigarettes, and nearly 50% have at least tried vaping, and the trend continues to rise.

    “This is about protecting our children from the addiction to nicotine and their ability to get access to these products,” Sen. Gary Stevens concluded.

    Senate Bill 89 also implements a 25% sales tax on the consumer of e-cigarettes and smoking products. Tobacco taxes have been proven to reduce youth tobacco use, resulting in fewer kids becoming life-long smokers, which ultimately reduces healthcare costs. In addition to deterring kids from beginning to use these products, tobacco taxes help adults who want to quit, do so.

    Senate Bill 89 was referred to the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

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