Lawmakers look to increase age to buy vape products, tobacco to 21

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- Lawmakers are making a push to raise the age to buy vape and tobacco products to 21 years old. With growing trends in nicotine in teens, people are asking for help.

House Bill 473 looks to raise the age to 21 for people to purchase vaping products as well as tobacco products. Educators came to talk about the use of these products in teens, and how its become an epidemic in their schools.

“Vaping is all over the place,” said John Easterly, and Assistant Principal at Denham Springs

Educators took the stand alongside Representative Buddy Mincey to call for the raise in age to buy vape and tobacco products. They said over the last few years the trends of nicotine products have greatly increased in teens. Sasterly said in the 2018-19 school year they had over 400 suspensions.

“It’s a quarter of all I do is students getting in trouble for nicotine or vapes at school,” Easterly said.

The educators hope with the age raise it will make it harder for teens to get the products when 18 year olds aren’t selling it or giving it to them. Having less exposure to it in schools, they hope they will not want to use it as much themselves. There are only 14 states currently that do not have the age at 21.

“We recognize this is a major epidemic, it’s a big time issue and the parents are asking for help, the students themselves are asking for help,” Assistant Principal Justin Wax said.

Some of the representatives brought up questions over the part of the bill that would require random inspections of retailers and asked to work on it further.

“It’s just a matter of access and it’s just one part of the puzzle and it’s just a first step,” Representative Buddy Mincey said.

There were no people in the hearing who came up to speak against the bill. The bill heads to the house floor for further approval.

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