Legislation aimed at reducing youth vaping almost ready

Health and education advocates say they are close to unveiling state legislation that would increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

Similar laws — called Tobacco 21 — have been passed in 18 states and Washington D.C.

Sarah Prem, advocacy specialist with the Kansas and Greater Kansas City American Lung Association, said tobacco-free groups are refining the legislation, recruiting sponsors and planning an education and communication campaign.

“We want to construct that big tent,” she said. The 2020 legislative session starts in January.

The proposed legislation has picked up momentum in recent months amid escalating fears about the use of e-cigarettes, especially by youngsters, and illnesses and deaths related to vaping.

A State Task Force on Vaping/E-cigarettes has been working on ways to restrict the use of e-cigarettes and help with cessation programs for people who have become addicted.

At least four Kansas school districts have decided to sue Juul, the nation’s largest e-cigarette manufacturer. The schools allege Juul has targeted its marketing to teens, getting students addicted to nicotine. Juul has touted its products as a way for adults to quit cigarettes.

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