Altria Group Inc. says it supports proposed federal legislation that would raise the age for people to purchase tobacco products to 21.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a speech to health advocates in Kentucky last week he is proposing a bill that would raise the legal purchase age for all tobacco products to 21.
Altria Group Chairman and CEO Howard Willard responded to the news: “Altria strongly supports raising the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products, including e-vapor, to 21. This is the most effective action to reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates. Now is the time to move to 21 and we welcome Senator McConnell’s leadership on this important issue.”
“The No. 1 way kids today get access to tobacco products is by obtaining them from legal age purchasers,” the company said in a news release. “Approximately 80 percent of high school students in the United States turn 18 years old before graduation. By raising the minimum age to 21, no high school student will be able to purchase tobacco products legally, adding another hurdle to help reduce social access.”
Currently, 14 states have passed or enacted tobacco 21 laws, covering approximately 38 percent of the U.S. population. Recently, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House that also would raise the legal age of purchase to 21.
“This is an issue that has broad, bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House,” Altria Group said. “According to FDA data, more than 20 million adult smokers in the U.S. want access to alternative products that may offer less risk than cigarettes. New and emerging technologies like e-vapor and heat-not-burn tobacco products offer tremendous promise in this area. But the FDA has made clear that the future viability of these products is in jeopardy unless more is done to reverse the underage e-vapor use trend. Raising the legal age to 21 is a pivotal step to addressing this issue.”
Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group’s subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., Sherman Group Holdings LLC and its subsidiaries, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. Altria holds an equity investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV and JUUL Labs Inc.