RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Tuesday that would raise the minimum age allowed to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Currently, the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the Commonwealth of Virginia is 18. House Bill 2748, was passed with a vote of 67 to 31. 

The Virginia Senate passed the same bill, so now it heads to the Governor's desk.

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“The Surgeon General has characterized teenage vaping as an ‘epidemic,’ with one-out-of-five high school seniors using these products,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “By raising the minimum age for purchase to 21, this will have a positive effect on our schools by lessening the chances of teenagers obtaining vaping products from friends and classmates who are already 18.”

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Teenagers use of traditional tobacco products is at an all-time low, however, teens vaping has doubled. In 2018, over 20 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in the last 30 days, compared to 11 percent in 2017.

"Predictions are if we were to implement this by the time that the current kids are adults, we'd see a 12 percent decrease in tobacco use and a ten percent decrease in smoking relating deaths," said Amy Paulson from EVMS.

“Raising the legal age for tobacco purchases to 21 is a common-sense way to address this escalating public health concern,” said Delegate Christopher Stolle, M.D. (R-Virginia Beach), who is the patron of House Bill 2748.  “The rapid growth of the number of teenagers vaping, at a time when the use of traditional tobacco is at an all-time low, should set off alarms for every parent.  This legislation will help to reverse that trend and I thank my colleagues for their support.”

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View the full bill below: