San Antonio’s “Tobacco 21” Law Is Part of A Growing Movement to Regulate E-Cigarettes

Teens in San Antonio might find it hard to re-up their supply of JUUL pods following an ordinance that bans the sale of all tobacco products for anyone under 21. San Antonio is the first city in Texas to enact stricter regulations on tobacco. It joins a growing list of cities taking similar stands amidst the rise of e-cigarettes because federal laws just aren’t cutting it.

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In September, U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement calling e-cigarettes “an epidemic.” The FDA also gave major manufacturers like JUUL and Blu a 60-day deadline to show that they’re trying to be less appealing to teens. Although the clock is still ticking on those 60 days, Adam Leventhal, Ph.D., a professor of preventative medicine at the University of Southern California says that San Antonio’s stricter tobacco policy is probably a smart move.

“If we had initiated these policies decades ago, we probably could have saved hundreds of thousands if not millions of teens who go exposed to cigarettes at an early age,” Leventhal tells Inverse. “Now with the greater diversity of products on the market including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, the Tobacco 21 policies that include e-cigarettes within them are addressing a product that’s highly popular amongst the youth population.”

San Antonio’s Tobacco 21 ordinance comes in the wake of other municipality-led movements raising the tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21. In 2016, Hawaii was the first to enact a state-wide law, and was soon followed by California. Maine and Oregon hopped on board this summer, and Massachusetts’ policy will take effect this December.

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10/2/2018