On Tuesday, laws went into effect in Connecticut and Maryland increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products in each state from 18 to 21. They are among 15 states to increase their age restriction to 21 since June 2015, when Hawaii became the first state to do in the 21st century.
New Jersey imposed the first tobacco age restriction, 16 years old, in 1883. By 1920, 14 states had a minimum tobacco age of 21. However, in the 1920s and 1930s, many lowered their age restrictions from 21 to 18 or 19. In 2000, three states (Alabama, Alaska, and Utah) had a tobacco age of 19 and the remaining 47 had a tobacco age of 18.
The 15 states where the minimum age to purchase or use tobacco is now 21 comprise 42% of the U.S. population. Three states have a tobacco age limit of 19 and the remaining 32 have a tobacco age limit of 18.
On November 13, New York will be the next state to increase its tobacco age restriction from 18 to 21.
Connecticut’s tobacco increase was signed by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. Maryland’s was signed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Since June 2015, nine Democratic governors and eight Republican governors have signed increases in their states’ tobacco restrictions into law. The tobacco age restriction increases in both states were passed by a majority-Democratic state legislature, meaning that Connecticut’s was passed under a Democratic trifecta and Maryland’s was passed under divided government. Eight states have increased their tobacco age under a Democratic trifecta, four under a Republican trifecta, and six under divided government.