Connecticuts New 'Tobacco 21' Law: Will it help what some are calling an epidemic?

The state of Connecticut has increased the legal age to purchase tobacco products, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement of new mysterious lung illnesses due to vaping. Starting Oct. 1, businesses can no longer sell cigarettes, cigars, tobacco paraphernalia and vaping products to customers under the age of 21. 

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York worked together on a regional partnership to put policies in place on e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

“It makes no sense to pass one set of rules in New York when they can just drive across the border to Connecticut and have a different set of rules and vice versa,” said Cuomo at a recent press conference.

Photo by: Leah Sutherland

Photo by: Leah Sutherland

Government officials passed Tobacco 21 in Connecticut and New York in hopes that it will slow down the rising number of young adults vaping. The legislation went into effect days after a CDC stated that 805 people have suffered from lung injuries due to vaping in the United States.

Graphic by: Leah Sutherland

Graphic by: Leah Sutherland

In Hamden, at least ten stores around Quinnipiac University sell vaping products. At Amity Wine and Spirits at 3300 Whitney Ave, staff have not noticed a change of behavior among customers. “We haven’t seen much of a decline in sales since the news came out about people getting sick from these things, but with the new Tobacco 21 law, I think there will definitely be a decrease in tobacco sales here at the store,” said employee Michael Goglia.

Quinnipiac student Anna Barton says the illnesses haven’t changed her mind about vaping, “I still use my juul. It seems like the people that are getting really sick is because they’re overusing them.” 


After receiving data on 771 people with mysterious lung illnesses, the CDC reported that 16% of the cases are individuals under the age of 18. In Connecticut, the Department of Public Health released health reports involving those ill due to vaping related illnesses. Connecticut has had 18 cases of vaping related lung injuries with 9 in Fairfield County, five in New Haven, .... Most of these cases are among 18 to 34 year olds (11), with four cases among those under 18 and three among those 35 and older.

Source: CDC

Source: CDC

Illnesses due to vaping include sudden unexplainable weight loss, shortness of breath and gastrointestinal problems. Healthcare professionals are dealing with otherwise healthy teenagers now needing a ventilator to breathe.

 Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states, according to the CDC.

In addition to the legal age change, an additional tax was added to sales of any tobacco products. The bill includes a 40 percent-per-milliliter tax on electronic cigarette liquid that is pre-filled and a 10 percent tax on the wholesale price of all other vaping products.

“People are noticing the extra tax,” Goglia said. “I had someone comment on the price increase this morning, so that is something that will definitely affect all the stores negatively.” 


Although the CDC reports that no single product or substance has been linked to all cases, in a recent report, it confirmed about 77% of the ill reported using THC-containing products and 36% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.

Graphic by: Leah Sutherland

Graphic by: Leah Sutherland

The New York and Connecticut governors will meet again Oct. 17 to discuss the details of vaping and legalizing marijuana and how to do it most effectively.