New laws aim to curb nicotine use among teens

New laws try to curb teen nicotine use

Last Updated Sep 4, 2019 10:55 AM EDT

New York — Three states this week raised the minimum age to purchase cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It's part of a nationwide crackdown on teen addiction to nicotine.

Caleb Mintz, 17, is on the front lines in the war on youth e-cigarettes. He tried them briefly himself before stopping, and has watched as more and more of his friends use them.

"I've seen people use it in classrooms when the teacher's not looking. Obviously, the bathroom is now called the Juul room and the vaping room," he said. "I've even seen a joke, where someone said, 'Why is there a toilet in the Juul room.'"

There are new efforts to curb the rise in e-cigarette use among young people. This week, Arkansas, Texas and Vermont joined nine other states in enacting laws that raises the legal age to buy any tobacco product including e-cigarettes to 21. Five more states will have similar laws in effect by next year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 215 possible cases and one death from severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products, which contain the same nicotine that has caused addiction with regular cigarettes. 

After seeing Mintz's experience with e-cigarettes, his mother Meredith Berkman co-founded Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes or PAVE.

"We're an army of parents. I refer to myself as a 'momvocate.' We're an army of motivated momvocates who are not going to allow our kids to become a generation of nicotine addicts," Berkman said.

Some health advocates are pushing for higher taxes on e-cigarette products and want the same regulations that ban indoor smoking applied to vaping.

  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook