The Seattle Times on raising the age of legal sale for vapor and tobacco to age 21

Federal lawmakers should follow the lead of Washington and at least 17 other states in raising the age of legal sale for vapor and tobacco products to age 21.

Doing so will make it more difficult for high school students to access these potentially harmful products, while helping keep them out of the hands of even younger teens.

Although it is often pitched as a safer alternative to cigarettes for existing adult smokers, vaping has been devastatingly popular with young people. In a recent survey, one third of the state’s high school seniors reported using e-cigarettes in 2018. According to national data, 5 million children use e-cigarettes, compared with 8 million adults.

Trump administration officials are said to be considering increasing the legal age of purchase and banning flavored e-cigarette products. Vape juices flavored to taste like candy, fruit or sweet deserts are popular with young users, who also say they appreciate small, discreet vape pens over traditional tobacco cigarettes.

But nicotine can harm developing brains regardless of how it is ingested — through smoke, water vapor or chew. ...

For years, e-cigarettes have largely been given a pass by regulators, based on the lack of evidence of actual harm. Those days are definitively over. A federal ban on underage sales, and tighter restrictions on flavorings and additives are needed to safeguard public health.

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