Delaware Public Media

Bill raising age to buy tobacco products goes to Gov. Carney

Apr 11, 2019

Gov. John Carney is expected to sign legislation raising the legal age to buy tobacco products in Delaware.

It cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday.

House lawmakers passed State Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown’s (D-New Castle) bill 25-16. It raises the age to purchase cigarettes, vapes and other similar products from 18 to 21 years old.

State Rep. Bill Carson (D-Smyrna) was the only Democrat voting no. He offered an amendment allowing active military and veterans to purchase tobacco products and work in places selling, but it failed.

Minor-Brown said military officials she’s spoken to support limiting access to nicotine to service members.

“It would be a great idea to look for other coping mechanisms that do not cause cancer, that do not cause chronic illnesses, you know," she said. "That don’t kill you. There are other coping mechanisms out there.”

State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek Valley) said he may introduce legislation that assesses civil penalties on people under age 21 who try to purchase tobacco. But Minor-Brown said she wouldn’t support the idea.

“I’d prefer to focus on the companies that are luring our children in to these horrible products that lead to severe health issues instead of trying to place penalties on our children,” she said.

Ramone said he’s considering penalties like having them watch a film showing how smoking was bad for their health or do community service hours at the Cancer Society. He withdrew an amendment assessing criminal penalties.

Another amendment to remove shipping requirements for some tobacco products was also defeated.

Advocacy groups cheered final passage of the tobacco purchase legislation. The American Lung Association said it will protect public health.