Image courtesy of Delaware.gov

Delaware Governor John Carney has signed legislation that will increase the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

At the signing on Wednesday morning at Legislative Hall, the Governor was joined by members of the General Assembly and advocates, as well as Dr. Kara Odom Walker, the Cabinet Secretary for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

Senate Bill 25 passed with bipartisan support, although it was primarily sponsored and voted for by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend of New Castle County, the lead sponsor of the bill had previously said “We need to explore every option we have to fight back agains this trend and keep our kids healthy and smoke-free. Today’s vote is a great start.” An amendment to the legislation clarified that tobacco substitutions such as e-cigarettes that only contain nicotine would also be included in the age increase.

At the time of the passage in the legislature, Governor Carney said “Preventing smoking is the best thing we can do to improve the health of our state, and to reduce the growth of health care costs over time.”

The legislation also included a stipulation that it would go into law 90 days following enactment, meaning sometime around July or August, the tobacco purchase age will officially increase.

Delaware joins nearby Virginia and New Jersey in increasing the age. Similar legislation made it’s way through the Maryland General Assembly in this year’s session but has not received a vote or veto from Governor Larry Hogan.