Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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Keeping Kids Safe From Dangers of Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Rep. DeGette believes strongly that Congress can and must do more to protect our children from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine.

  • Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in our country.
  • Studies show that nearly all adult smokers started before the age of 21.
  • Colorado has the nation’s highest rate of teenagers using e-cigarettes.
  • Experts agree kid-friendly flavors of liquid nicotine have caused the recent spike in teen vaping

To better protect our children, Rep. DeGette has introduced two key pieces of legislation in this Congress – one to raise the nationwide smoking age to 21 and another to crack down on the sale of kid-friendly flavors of nicotine that experts all agree have caused the recent spike in e-cigarette use amongst teens.

“Congress has a responsibility to enact laws to protect the public’s health – and, right now, tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in our country.”

– Rep. Diana DeGette

Raising smoking age to 21

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is responsible for killing more than 480,000 people every year – more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. And studies show that nearly all current adult smokers started before they reached the age of 21.

In May 2019, Rep. DeGette introduced a bill to raise the nationwide legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The legislation – known as the “Tobacco to 21 Act” – would prohibit retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. It would also require anyone under the age of 30 to show a valid photo ID to purchase such products.

DeGette’s legislation comes after 12 states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar laws to raise the legal tobacco buying age in their states or territories from 18 to 21.

A study by the National Academy of Medicine found that raising the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new smokers and decrease our nation’s overall tobacco use by 12%.

Curbing the teen vaping epidemic

In addition to protecting our kids from the dangers of tobacco, Rep. DeGette is also working to curb the dramatic rise in the number of teens who are now vaping across the country.

In April 2019, Rep. DeGette introduced a bill to crack down on the kid-friendly flavors of nicotine – such as “gummy bear,” “cotton candy,” “tutti frutti,” and “cookies ‘n cream” –  that experts say are one of the leading causes of this recent spike in use.

The legislation – known as the “SAFE Kids Act” – would give e-cigarette manufactures one year to prove to the federal Food and Drug Administration that these kid-friendly flavorings do not lead to increased use among teens; do not cause any additional harm; and are used solely to help adults stop smoking cigarettes.

If e-cigarette manufacturers cannot prove all three of those claims within one year of Rep. DeGette’s bill being signed into law, they will no longer be allowed to sell or manufacturer those specific flavored nicotine products here in the U.S.

Supporters of Rep. DeGette’s bill say it’s a necessary step to protect our children from the dangers associated with e-cigarette use at an early age.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, while cigarette use among high school students in the U.S. has reached an all-time low, the use of e-cigarettes among such student has increased more than ten-fold.