U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, wants to raise the legal age to use tobacco from 18 to 21, and she doesn't want the industry's help in crafting her bill.
DeGette's Tobacco to 21 Act would also require asking for a valid photo ID from anyone younger than 30 before they can buy the products.
The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, with a Senate version introduced Monday by Sens. Brian Schatz. D-Hawaii, and Todd Young, R-Ind.
“Congress has a responsibility to enact laws to protect the public’s health,” DeGette said in a statement. “And right now, tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in our country.”
The legislation is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, DeGette said.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia already have passed the age to 21, DeGette's office said.
DeGette criticized two Republican bills to raise the age to 21, characterizing them as a Trojan horses that helps the tobacco industry, because they exempt future smoking products not yet on the market and prevent local and state governments from passing additional regulations, "such as banning the sale of kid-friendly flavors of nicotine," DeGette's office said.
“Unlike other bills drafted by the industry, our bill has no special-interest carve-outs or limitations on state and local governments,” she stated. “Unlike other bills, our bill was drafted with one simple goal in mind and that’s to protect public health by keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young people.”
If Democrats can pass the bill in the House, where they have a majority, the lift could prove heavier in the Republican-led Senate.