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Hartford Raises Legal Age To Purchase Tobacco Products

Hartford Raises Legal Age To Purchase Tobacco Products

April 5, 2019

By CCM staff

In Hartford, you won’t be able to buy a pack of cigarettes until you can buy a beer, as the municipality raised the legal age to 21 to purchase tobacco products.

There is plenty of evidence that smoking tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars, chewing tobacco, and other products containing nicotine are highly addictive. These products are also known carcinogens, which increases the danger of getting hooked on them in the first place.

Raising the age at which people can buy tobacco products hopefully puts the dangerous substance out of the reach of young people who are more susceptible to addiction. According to the Truth Initiative, which has been a leader of anti-smoking campaigns for years, “nearly all smoking initiation occurs before the age of 26. The younger that someone is when she or he starts using tobacco, the more likely she or he will become addicted.”

Eighteen is a long-standing transition age as it is the year when you can first vote, enter the military, and prior to 1984, the drinking age. That too was raised nationally when Ronald Reagan signed the Minimum Drinking Age Act that mandated the drinking age of 21. The law has been a resounding success with drunk driving accidents plummeting by 50 percent after the passage of the law, with the greatest drops in 16 to 20 year-olds according to the National Institute of Health.

The age of 21 is strategic in that many high schoolers reach 18 before graduation. The prevalence of smoking in high school creates a culture of acceptance, and risks some kids even thinking it is “cool” to smoke. The three year gap greatly limits the access of cigarettes to those in high school. 

Other Cities back to top

While Hartford is the first municipality in Connecticut to raise the purchasing age, it is not the first in this trend by a long shot. According to the Hartford Courant “six states — California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii and Maine — have adopted similar rules, along with dozens of municipalities, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio.”

Locally, Central Falls, R.I. has approved similar legislation.

While the federal law states that tobacco shall not be sold to a person under the age of 18 years, it is not illegal for people of any age to smoke tobacco.

Other campaigns have decreased smoking in teens in recent years as half as many high school students were smoking cigarettes from 2011 to 2017, but electronic cigarette use has been on the rise in that same time, outpacing cigarettes by nearly 300% according to the Centers for Disease Control. These products are part of the Hartford ban as well.

The city hopes to become a leader in the state in trying to reduce children from getting hooked on tobacco products, but a bill to raise the age statewide failed last year.