December is one of the best times of the year for high school seniors because of the time off school and fun gift-giving traditions. This past Christmas break, the FDA would have a different kind of present for those under the age of 21. However, they wouldn’t be giving anything, but rather, taking something away.
On Dec. 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed a bill that would officially raise the legal age to purchase all tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21, effective immediately.
The new law struck fear into high schoolers across America, as teens rushed to their favorite gas stations and smoke shops to stock up on their favorite nicotine devices. Most popular stores here in Bloomington, such as Bloomington Smoke Time, started implementing the new policy as early as Dec. 28th, with other stores following closely behind, starting the law on Jan. 1st.
“I don’t even vape myself, but when I heard about the law, I bought about $100 worth of vape products to make some money,” said a senior at South.
Prior to the federal ban, this law was already in effect in 19 states, including Virginia, the home state of Senator Tim Kaine, who, alongside Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, proposed the new law. The law was made in hopes of reducing teen vaping, an epidemic that has skyrocketed in the United States over the last couple of years.
Although the law hasn’t completely ended teen vaping, many South students feel it has given them a reason to quit.
“As much as I hate the law, it’s given me a good reason to chill out on nicotine. Although I haven’t completely stopped, I have stopped doing it regularly,” said a junior at South.
One anonymous senior had a lot to say about the new law.
“I think the government should have at least honored a grandfather clause so that people who were already 18 were still allowed to buy. Personally, I think that it’s an invasion of my freedoms. If I’m legally an adult, I should be able to give myself popcorn lung if I so please. I get that the government has to protect children and all, but I’m going to be out of high school in just a couple weeks I should have the freedom to buy nicotine products.”
From an adult’s perspective, Assistant Principal Joe Doyle is among those in favor of an increased age laws, “I think it helps, especially in high schools. From what I’ve seen the cases have gone down.”
It appears 2020 is taking a step in the right direction for the teen vaping epidemic. Although it’s too early for new statistics to reveal if the law is actually helping or not, it certainly can’t make matters any worse.