WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- Senators from two major tobacco states have come together to introduce a bill raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
Senator Tim Kaine and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the Tobacco-Free Youth Act, which would raise the national minimum age to buy any tobacco products.
This includes e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says from 2017 to 2018, the number of youth e-cigarette users went up by 1.5 million, and more than one in four high school students have reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days.
"Today, we are coming together to side with young people's health. With this bipartisan legislation, Senator McConnell and I are working to address one of the most significant public health issues facing our nation today," said Kaine. "Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a critical part of our efforts to improve public health and keep tobacco products out of the schools and away from our children."
In 2018, Kaine also joined letters sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and JUUL Labs, Inc. about youth access to and use of flavored e-cigarettes, urging immediate steps to ban kid-friendly flavorings in e-cigarettes and cigars.
And while he was governor of Virginia, Kaine signed a bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. An executive order also banned smoking in state buildings and vehicles.
The Institute of Medicine has also found that most adult smokers started smoking before the age of 21, so increasing the age to 21 would save lives, improve public health, and reduce tobacco use among youth.