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US set to raise smoking age to 21 and to fund gun violence research after 20 year freeze

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l7055 (Published 20 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l7055
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal, Canada

The annual spending bill advancing through Congress this week1 will ban the sale of tobacco and vaping products to people aged under 21 across the United States, in an unexpected win for anti-smoking groups.

The omnibus bill, which sets the federal budget for the year ahead, will also allocate $25m (£18m; €21m) to study gun violence, ending a 23 year freeze on public funding of such research.

Legislators often tack unrelated amendments onto the spending bill, and these can become obstacles to its passage. But both parties are eager to rack up legislative wins as the election approaches and a series of swift compromises saw the bill sail through the House.

In the Senate, both parties have already said they will back it. That leaves only the president’s signature, which is expected to be a formality.

Anti-smoking groups have long pushed for the minimum age of legal access to be raised to 21, but only recently has legislators’ resistance started to crumble, as the tobacco industry itself began advocating the change.

Tobacco giant …

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