Skip to content

Schatz Welcomes New FDA Rule on Regulating E-Cigarettes and California Raising Tobacco Age to 21

HONOLULU – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, today welcomed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) release of a final rule that extends the FDA’s regulatory authority over tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes.  The new rule will ensure that e-cigarettes are regulated in the same way that the FDA regulates traditional cigarettes.

“Today marks an historic day in our fight to keep tobacco products out of the hands of youth.  With this new rule, the FDA now has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes and protect children from developing dangerous addictions,” said Senator Schatz. “I am also glad to see that the state of California has followed Hawai‘i’s lead and raised its tobacco age to 21.  We’re making progress and building momentum.  It’s time to pass our Tobacco to 21 bill and raise the smoking age across the country.”

Before today, there was no federal law prohibiting retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars to people under age 18. Today’s rule changes that with provisions aimed at restricting youth access, which go into effect in 90 days.

In September, Senator Schatz introduced the Tobacco to 21 Act, legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products, now including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.

Hawai‘i was the first state in the nation to raise the legal smoking age to 21.  And yesterday, California followed Hawai‘i’s lead and raised the legal age to sell tobacco products in that state from 18 to 21.

In the last 50 years, nearly 21 million people in the United States have died due to tobacco-related illnesses, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.  A recent report by the Institute of Medicine found that raising the legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.

Schatz’s Tobacco to 21 Act is supported by the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academic Pediatric Association, American Pediatric Society, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Veterans (AMVETS), American Public Health Association, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Trust for America’s Health, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, First Focus Campaign for Children, Pediatric Policy Council, Society for Pediatric Research, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Hawai‘i Medical Service Association, and Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i.