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Congress could pass a major health care reform regarding tobacco products in the coming months, according to a Monday Politico report.
A proposed law would federally prohibit the sale of tobacco products to consumers under the age of 21.
The outlet reported that a raised age cap on tobacco products — including those of the e-cigarette type — is “increasingly likely to be included in the year-end spending deal.” The outlet cites “four people familiar with the matter.”
Senators supporting the legislation include Democrats Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.). Republican Senate backers include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Todd Young (Ind.), and Mitt Romney (Utah).
A number of states already prohibit the sale of tobacco to people under the age of 21, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
According to a 2015 report by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Health and Medicine Division, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21 will “significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives.”
The report pointed out that a positive impact would be widespread if the minimum age were increased to 21 years of age, reporting that overall smoking deaths would decrease by 10 percent. The American Lung Association added that “smoking initiation will be reduced by 25 percent for 15-17 year-olds and 15 percent for 18-20 year-olds.”
“Nationwide, [raising the age cap for purchase of tobacco products] could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation’s leading cancer killer,” the organization said.