Delaware Governor John Carney signed a bill raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the state from 18 to 21.
The bill was passed by the Delaware House of Representatives earlier this month by a 25-16 vote, following the senate’s 14-6 vote.
“We expect this legislation will help curb the impact of smoking on Delaware families by preventing more young Delawareans from picking up this dangerous habit in the first place,” said Gov. Carney. “I want to thank members of the General Assembly for their partnership on this important legislation.”
The bill, which will go into effect 90 days after it’s signed, eliminates an existing provision allowing parents or guardians to buy tobacco for minors, as well as existing penalties for underage buyers.
Retailers caught selling tobacco products to those under 21, however, will face fines of $250 to $1,000.
“We commend Governor John Carney for signing legislation to raise the purchasing age for all tobacco products, including vapor products, to 21 in Delaware, and would also like to recognize the instrumental leadership of Senator Bryan Townsend in this effort,” said Juul CEO Kevin Burns. “We cannot fulfill our mission to provide the world’s one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in this country, if youth-use continues unabated. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem — sharing by legal-age peers — and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth-use rates. That is why we are committed to working with lawmakers to enact these effective policies and hope more jurisdictions follow in Delaware’s example.”
Delaware is the 11th state to enact an over-21 tobacco law, joining California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Maryland and New York could be the next — both states await a signature or veto from their respective governor.