Bill introduced to raise legal age for tobacco/nicotine/vaping products

Senate Bill 364, authored by Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green, pictured) and Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) and a bipartisan cadre of fellow lawmakers, has been introduced in the legislature.  This bill changes the age for purchasing cigarettes, tobacco products, or nicotine products from 18 to 21, and imposes a minimum age for purchasing vapor products.

The WASB supports this bill based on our member-approved resolutions and has provided a sample resolution for boards to use to express their support for the bill on our Boards Taking Action webpage.  There you can find resolutions passed by other school boards on various issues as well as WASB sample resolutions that boards can use for the basis of their own resolutions.  Click on the gray box labeled “Sample Letters and Resolutions” and look for the “Sample Board Resolution in Support of Tobacco 21 Legislation in Wisconsin”

From the lawmakers’ cosponsorship memo:

“Between 2017 and 2018 alone, the use of vapor products by high school students increased 78%, and by 48% among middle school students, according to figures from the federal Food and Drug Administration. Studies have shown nearly 40% of 12th graders report using an e-vapor product in the past 12 months.

“To address this troubling trend, we are introducing legislation that would increase the age for sale, purchase, and possession of cigarettes and nicotine and tobacco products, including vapor products, from 18 to 21. Many other states, 17 and counting, have taken this step, and over 50% of the country’s population is currently covered by Tobacco 21 laws. Demonstrating the effectiveness of the policy, an Institute of Medicine committee formed to study the issue for the FDA, found raising the minimum legal sales age nationwide would reduce tobacco initiation, particularly among adolescents aged 15 to 17, lead to a 12% reduction in smoking over time, and immediately improve the health of adolescents and young adults.

“Increasing the age to 21 will ensure fewer social access points in high schools, while aligning evapor and tobacco products with other adult products, including beer, wine and distilled spirits. By setting both product purchase, possession and use ages at 21, versus establishing another age such as 19, this bill minimizes retailer compliance and enforcement issues. It is true that in most circumstances, the age of 18 is accepted as the entry point to adulthood. However, we believe those concerns are outweighed by the public health consequences of youth vaping, and that an age 21 policy aligns Wisconsin with the direction other states and the federal government are headed.”

The WASB supports this bill to the extent it will help keep these products out of schools.  2019 WASB Delegate Assembly recently updated our resolution on tobacco products to include vapor products:

6.02 Tobacco-free, Nicotine-free and Vaping-free Schools
The WASB supports school learning environments free of tobacco, nicotine and
vaping products and devices. (1991-4)(2019-13)