Raising the legal age limit to 21 to buy tobacco supported by Dare Board of Commissioners

Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Dare County commissioners are now on record advocating raising the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21 and setting up a tobacco retailer permitting system to protect “our kids from vaping and nicotine addiction.”

In the 2019 Youth Tobacco Survey, the current tobacco use among youth was 18.85%. The Healthy North Carolina 2030 tobacco baseline and target is 9%.

In that same year, 2019, Congress upped the legal sales age of tobacco products including e-cigarettes to 21.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

North Carolina is one of nine states that has not raised its minimum age for tobacco purchase to 21.

Theresa Beardsley, regional tobacco prevention manager, and Sheila Davies, Dare County Health and Human Services director, made the presentation about tobacco use and the request for support at the early February meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

The board voted 5-1 in support of the resolution to be sent to the North Carolina General Assembly.

Young people primarily get e-cigarettes from retail locations and vape shops, stated the presentation. “The most common social source of e-cigarettes among youth aged 13-17 is from a friend under the age of 21,” found the CDC Foundation in 2021.

The adopted resolution states that the state could lose up to $4 million in annual funding used from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant from penalties if sales to underage youth are too high. A 20% threshold was mentioned. The money is used in North Carolina for drug treatment.

The resolution states that “the North Carolina ABC Commission is capable of implementing an efficient and effective tobacco retailer permitting systems based on the system also in place for alcohol retailer permitting.”

Voting against the resolution was commissioner Rob Ross, who called the move hypocrisy.