By CBS3 Staff

DOVER, DEL. (CBS/AP) — The state House has approved a bill raising the legal age to buy tobacco products in the state from 18 to 21. House members voted 25-16 for the measure Thursday, with one Democrat joining Republican opponents.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. John Carney.

“We expect this legislation will help curb the impact of smoking on Delaware families by preventing more young Delawareans from picking up this dangerous habit in the first place,” Carney said in a statement.

Delaware Proposes Raising Smoking Age, Including Vapes And E-Cigarettes, To 21

Retailers caught selling any tobacco product or tobacco substitute to someone under 18 would face criminal fines ranging from $250 to $1,000. Those caught selling to people over 18 but under 21 would face civil penalties of similar amounts.

The bill eliminates an existing provision allowing parents or guardians to buy tobacco for minors, as well as existing penalties for underage buyers, meaning only sellers would be targeted.

“We know that about 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette before age 21, and many tobacco users transition from experimenting to regular tobacco use between the ages of 18 and 21,” said Deborah Brown, chief mission officer for the American Lung Association.

Amendments to keep penalties for underage buyers and to exempt active-duty military members failed to win House approval.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (2)
  1. Michael J. McFadden says:

    If our 20 year old children are too young to decide to smoke, how can we possibly hold them responsible for childlike decisions in criminal law? Yes, they may make youthful mistakes like smoking or shooting or mugging people or “borrowing cars” etc, but they’re not really old enough to reason yet, so penalties should be educational, not punitive, right? How can we countenance young lives being ruined by locking children away for years or even decades simply because they made immature decisions?

    And while we’re fixing that failing in our society, it’s high time that we stopped sending children off to die in military conflicts. Third World countries are notorious for their squads of “child soldiers,” but the U.S. should be better than that, no? Our children should be allowed to grow up to the point where they can maturely make decisions about such things as smoking, marriage, having children, or joining the military before such things are allowed. Indeed, given the relative risk of our children being killed in declared or undeclared wars when compared to the risk of them being killed as children by smoking, perhaps the minimum age for military service should be raised to the end of adolescence, now being defined officially as ending at age 25 when the brain stops developing.)

    After all, we DO want to actually be reasonable about our laws and such things, no?

    – MJM

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