Governor Hopes Raising Tobacco Purchase Age Will Curb Teen Vaping

The state has raised the age limit to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Starting on Tuesday you need to be 21 to purchase tobacco products in Connecticut.

"People [vape] in school. They leave class, they do it in class," said student Britney Diakpieng.

For many students around the country vaping is something they're seeing every day. It's why Gov. Ned Lamont says raising the age limit from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco products in the state is so important. At a news conference at Platt High School in Meriden on Tuesday, the governor spoke to students about the new law.

"There's a lot of great ways you can have a hell of a lot of fun, but stay away from these substances especially these illegal substances," said Lamont. "We certainly know that the illegal vaping products are deadly."

There have been hundreds of lung illnesses and more than a dozen deaths linked to vaping, but no single ingredient or product has been linked to all cases. NBC News recently had lab testing done on 10 knock-off marijuana vapes and found a pesticide linked to hydrogen cyanide in all of them.

When it comes to raising the age limit, some students say they doubt it'll make a big difference on who vapes.

"Bringing the age up is a really good idea, but people will still be able to get it regardless," said student Treasure Ransom.

Businesses like Songbirds Vape and Smoke Shop in West Hartford say the new law will certainly impact their bottom line. They estimate at least 30 percent of customers were between 18 and 20 but say almost all who turn to vaping do it to try and quit smoking.

"It makes it difficult for people who might be over 18 that have been smoking since they were younger and are trying to get off cigarettes," said manager Alex Keenan.

Some lawmakers want the governor to take it a step further - state Sen. Saud Anwar (D- South Windsor) wrote a letter to Lamont requesting an executive action to ban the sales of vapes and vaping products for the next four months. 

"Vaping products are marketed and sold in nearly 8,000 flavors and come in many different sizes, types and colors. Some resemble pens, small electronic devices such as USB sticks and other everyday items. The products are often compact and allow for discreet carrying and use – at home, in school hallways and bathrooms and even in classrooms. Because of this, these potentially dangerous products have become extremely appealing to our youth and have become the most commonly used tobacco products among middle and high school students," the letter read, in part.

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