Bridgeport to Raise Legal Age to Buy Tobacco

The city of Bridgeport has passed an ordinance raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.

Hartford was the first city to take such action last year, and several other towns and cities in the state are considering similar policies.

The ordinance comes amid reports of a spike in the number of high school students using e-cigarettes. 

In December the surgeon general called the use of e-cigarettes among young people an epidemic amid a reported 75 percent increase in high school student use from last year, and a 50 percent increase by middle schoolers.

Many health advocates applauded the move to raise the legal purchase age.

“Raising the tobacco age of sale to 21 is one of the best things cities can do to focus on reducing youth initiation and addiction to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” said Kevin O’Flaherty, Regional Director of Advocacy for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids during his testimony in front of the Council. “While other policies work to increase cessation and reduce consumption among adults, Tobacco 21 is focused on exclusively on protecting kids and keeping all addictive tobacco products out of schools and out of their hands.”

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of that ordinance, but critics say the move will hurt Hartford retailers, because those between 18 and 20 can just go to another city or town.

Not everyone is in support of upping the age. When Hartford passed their ordinance the National Association of Tobacco Outlets sent councilors a letter saying it will hurt retailers. Critics have argued that younger adults can just go to another city or town to purchase.

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