MERIDEN — A City Council resolution that looks to combat teen vaping by raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 will go to a public hearing next month.
Meriden is looking to join a number of other municipalities by raising the minimum age.
City officials said they were influenced by mounting evidence that more and more teens are using vaping products.
Teen use of e-cigarettes increased by 78 percent in the past year, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said at a December press conference.
Although there is limited local data on teen vaping, the latest survey of Meriden students found 8.9 percent in grades 7 through 12 used a vaping device in the previous 30 days.
Proponents of raising the age to 21 hope it will deter young people from becoming addicted at an early age. The City Council resolution states “95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before 21” – adding that “adolescence is a critical period when smokers move from experimental smoking to addictive daily use.”
On Monday night, the City Council referred the resolution to the council’s Human Services Committee, which will hold a hearing April 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 142 E. Main St. Democratic City Councilor Larue Graham, who chairs the human services committee, and Health Director Lea Crown presented the resolution on Monday.
If the committee passes the resolution, it would then need approval from the full City Council. If ultimately approved, the ordinance would take effect 180 days after adoption.
Earlier this year, the Health Department used an online survey to gauge attitudes on raising the age to 21. A total of 68 percent of respondents favored raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21.
While teen use of traditional cigarettes continues to decline nationwide, teen use of e-cigarettes has sharply risen in recent years in large part because the e-cigarettes come in flavors like cucumber, mango, and creme brulee. E-cigarette manufacturers have also been accused of launching ad campaigns targeting younger audiences in an attempt to hook a new generation of tobacco users.
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