Press Release

Press Release Banner Image

More than Half of U.S. Population Now Governed by State Laws Raising Minimum Age of Purchase for All Tobacco Products to 21

Company Release - 7/18/2019 10:50 AM ET

-- Altria calls for 21 to be the nationwide standard --

RICHMOND, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- With legislation signed this week in both New York and Ohio, today more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives in states that have raised the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21.

In response, Howard Willard, chairman and chief executive officer of Altria Group, Inc. said:

“Now is the time to move to 21, which is by far the best way to stop the rise in underage e-vapor use and is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Taking this step will reduce underage access to these products. It will also pave the way for e-vapor products to realize their enormous harm reduction potential for millions of adult smokers 21 and older.”

Background

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, in 2018, 20.8 percent of high school students reported past 30-day e-cigarette use. Further, 4.9 percent of middle schoolers reported past 30-day e-cigarette use in 2018.

Data show that youth under 18 get tobacco products – including e‐vapor – primarily through social access, that is, from friends, siblings, and others who get the products for them. Approximately 80 percent of high school students in the U.S. turn 18 before they graduate. By raising the minimum age to 21, almost no high school student should be able to purchase tobacco products legally.

According to FDA data, more than 20 million adult smokers in the U.S. want access to alternative products that may offer less risk than cigarettes. New technologies like e-vapor offer tremendous promise in this area. But the FDA has made clear that the future viability of these products is at risk unless more is done to reverse the underage e-vapor use trend. Raising the legal age to 21 is an important step toward addressing this issue.

History shows that it takes time for programs and policies to have a measurable effect, as demonstrated by underage cigarette use rates in the 1990s. Concerted efforts by political leaders, health officials, educators, manufacturers, retailers and others took five years to drive down underage use of cigarettes. Today, underage use of cigarettes is at historical lows.

Broad Support for Moving to 21

Raising the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 is broadly popular among the American electorate, according to public opinion research commissioned by Altria Client Services in December 2018. This research shows:

  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of voters support the increase, with 48% strongly in support.
  • A strong majority of self-identified Democrats (81%), Republicans (68%), and Independents (71%) support raising the minimum purchase age to 21.
  • Support is consistently high throughout the country.

  • A majority of both current cigarette consumers (58%) and e-vapor consumers (56%) support raising the legal age of purchase for tobacco products to 21 years old.

Progress to Date

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation raising the legal age of purchase to 21; 12 of those states passed legislation this year. Four additional states are considering legislation to move to 21. Several bipartisan bills are pending in Congress, which Altria also supports.

 

States

 

Year Enacted

CT, TX, NY, VT, MD, DE, UT, WA, AR, IL, VA, OH

 

2019

MA

 

2018

ME, NJ, OR

 

2017

CA, District of Columbia

 

2016

HI

 

2015

 

Altria Profile

Altria’s wholly-owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM USA), U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC), John Middleton Co. (Middleton), Sherman Group Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries (Nat Sherman), Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. (Ste. Michelle) and Philip Morris Capital Corporation (PMCC). Altria holds an equity investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev), JUUL Labs, Inc. (JUUL) and Cronos Group Inc. (Cronos).

The brand portfolios of Altria’s tobacco operating companies include Marlboro®, Black & Mild®, Copenhagen® and Skoal®. Ste. Michelle produces and markets premium wines sold under various labels, including Chateau Ste. Michelle®, Columbia Crest®, 14 Hands® and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars™, and it imports and markets Antinori®, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte™ and Villa Maria Estate™ products in the United States. Trademarks and service marks related to Altria referenced in this release are the property of Altria or its subsidiaries or are used with permission.

More information about Altria is available at altria.com and on the Altria Investor app, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Altria Client Services
Investor Relations
804-484-8222

Altria Client Services
Media Relations
804-484-8897  

Source: Altria Group, Inc.