A great deal of attention has recently been devoted to raising the minimum purchase age for vapor products and cigarettes to 21. This would bring it in line with the legal age for buying alcohol. After careful review of the evidence, NJOY® believes adoption of a nationwide minimum age of 21 for cigarettes and vapor products makes good sense. Here is why:
First, let’s begin with who vapor products are made for. They are for adults who smoke and are looking for a non-combustion alternative, or for adults who have already made the switch to vapor. They are not for minors.
NJOY® is a mission-driven company – we are guided by the goal to Make Smoking History. In the pursuit of that mission, we always seek to have a positive impact on the population as a whole – enabling the greatest transition possible by adults from combustion to vapor, while doing our part to prevent youth usage of vapor products.
We at NJOY® are also driven by science and data. Among other things, we are doing everything we can to contribute to the overall availability of credible, independent clinical data on the impact and effectiveness of vapor products in promoting switching. We are especially proud of our development of the Standard Reference Electronic Cigarette (SREC), pursuant to a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The SREC will be utilized in at least seven government-funded, independent clinical studies on vapor products and switching.
We have tried to apply the same discipline to evaluating the age 21 issue, and here is what we have found. The National Youth Tobacco Study (NYTS) collects information on tobacco use, including the use of vapor products, from middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) students. The NYTS includes questions about the source of youth-used electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products. According to the 2017-released NYTS data, so-called “social sources” – whether friends, family, or other persons – accounted for 72.3% of ENDS products obtained by youth.
In 2015, the Institute of Medicine concluded that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will have a substantial positive impact on public health and save lives. According to the Truth Initiative: “Raising the age of sale for tobacco to 21 has the potential to help end tobacco use once and for all.”
Historical evidence with raising the legal drinking age supports our findings related to raising the minimum purchase age. In the early 1980’s, many states raised the legal drinking age to 21, and by 1988, all had done so. Past month and binge drinking among high school seniors decreased by 22 percent between 1982 and 1998, while impaired youth driver involvement in fatal crashes decreased by 61 percent. Simply put: increasing minimum age requirements leads to less access which leads to less youth adoption - and it does so without disadvantaging adult smokers. Age 21 has the potential to be a true win-win, and we at NJOY® therefore support it.