The State Senate on Tuesday passed a bill banning the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to Delawareans under 21 years of age.
Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark/Bear, the prime sponsor in the Senate, touted the bill as a win for public health.
"Everyone knows the costs of smoking: lung disease, cancer, higher insurance costs "“ and worst of all, a shorter life," said Townsend. "But not everyone is aware that after years of convincing more and more young people to never pick up the habit, tobacco products are now pushing their way back into our schools, reaching children as young as 12 with e-cigarette flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy. We need to explore every option we have to fight back against this trend and keep our kids healthy and smoke-free."
The sudden uptick in e-cigarette use by underage students -- widely reported across the country --spurred lawmakers to act.
"Cities and states that have already enacted this policy are seeing underage smoking rates drop by a third or more," Townsend said. "That's more than just an impressive statistic, it's lives saved, lengthened, and improved from middle school onward.
Data from the CDC and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids suggest Delaware is losing $532 million in annual healthcare costs due to smoking, $854 per household in state and federal tax burdens from smoking-caused government expenditures, and $391.2 million in smoking-caused productivity losses.
The original bill, Senate Bill 25, was substituted on Tuesday. Among other minor changes, the updated version:
1. Clarifies the definitions of "tobacco product" and "tobacco substitute,"
2. Allows employees under age 21 who are employed by a vapor establishment on the effective date of this Act to continue working at the vapor establishment if the vapor establishment provides the required documentation to the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, and
3. Makes this Act effective 90 days after enactment.