Tobacco 21 Act seeks powerful allies

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
September 20, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- There’s new energy around an effort to raise the age to purchase nicotine products like cigarettes and vapes to 21 in the state of Florida.

The final details haven’t been worked out, but the issue has the ear of the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor.

During the 2019 session, the Tobacco 21 Act, which would raise the age to purchase nicotine products from 18 to 21, passed the Senate and two House committees.

Statistics show one out of five teens vape and at least eight deaths are believed to be linked to vaping related illnesses.

“So there is momentum, especially now the headlines are showing that it's killing our youth as well,” said Representative Jackie Toledo.

Toledo, the House Sponsor of the Tobacco 21 Act, now has the ear of the state’s Attorney General Ashley Moody and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez.

She’s hoping to get them on board with Tobacco 21.

"We're all on the same page that something needs to happen. What that solution ultimately is, is what we're all discussing,” said Toledo.

Health advocates with the American Cancer Society tell us they’re also planning to meet with Nunez and Moody.

They’re also working on hammering out the details of the Tobacco 21 Act with sponsors.

Moody and Nunez have both been attending meetings on the teen vaping crisis.

When we spoke with Nunez Tuesday, she hadn’t committed to the idea of raising the age.

“But again, the process is just beginning. It will work its way through,” said Nunez.

Moody told us her main concern is with flavored vape products.

“As a mother of a nine year old you can imagine that grape, bubble gum would be attractive to kids,” said Moody.

The Tobacco 21 Act ran into several issues during the 2019 session, with the Tobacco and Vaping industries working to water down the legislation.

This year’s bill doesn’t include many issues that were responsible for tanking the 2019 effort such as exemptions for cigars and military personnel.

The 2019 version also would have preempted local governments from regulating tobacco advertising.

But the industry is sure to fight hard in 2020 as well.



 
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