Bill Raising The Age To Purchase Tobacco In Delaware Heads To Governor’s Desk

The Delaware State Legislature has passed a bill to raise the age to purchase tobacco products in Delaware from 18 to 21.

Governor John Carney on Thursday released the following statement on the final passage of the Bill.

“Preventing smoking is the best thing we can do to improve the health of our state, and reduce the growth of health care costs over time. The use of tobacco-related products is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Delaware and across the country. Tobacco-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and heart disease, claim the lives of 1,400 Delawareans each year, and treatment of those illnesses costs Delaware families, businesses and the State more than $530 million annually. We expect this legislation will help curb the impact of smoking on Delaware families by preventing more young Delawareans from picking up this dangerous habit in the first place. I want to thank members of the General Assembly for their partnership on this important legislation, and I look forward to signing this bill into law soon.”

House Bill

This Act restricts access to tobacco products and tobacco substitutes to individuals under age 21 by doing all of the following:

1. Prohibits sales of tobacco products or tobacco substitutes to individuals who are under 21.

2. Imposes a civil penalty for sales to individuals between the ages of 18 and 21.

3. Repeals the ability of a parent or guardian to purchase tobacco products or tobacco substitutes for a minor.

4. Revises the framework by which an employer may use an affirmative defense to the improper sale of tobacco products or tobacco substitutes, aligning the affirmative defense with the minimum age increase.

5. Adopts best practices for enforcement measures by modifying the prohibition against the purchase of tobacco products by minors.

6. Prohibits individuals under age 21 from entering vapor establishments.

Senate Bill

1. Revises the definitions of “tobacco product” and tobacco substitute” for clarity and makes corresponding changes to related statutes.

2. Allows employees under age 21 who are employed by a vapor establishment on the effective date of this Act to continue working at the vapor establishment if the vapor establishment provides the required documentation to the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement.

3. Makes this Act effective 90 days after enactment. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

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