RICHMOND, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) (MO) -- In response to the announcement today by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) for plans to introduce legislation to raise the age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21, Altria Group Chairman and CEO Howard Willard said:
“Altria strongly supports raising the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products, including e-vapor, to 21. This is the most effective action to reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates. Now is the time to move to 21 and we welcome Senator McConnell’s leadership on this important issue.”
The number one way kids today get access to tobacco products is by obtaining them from legal age purchasers. Approximately 80% of high school students in the U.S. turn 18 years old before graduation. By raising the minimum age to 21, no high school student will be able to purchase tobacco products legally, adding another hurdle to help reduce social access.
There are now 14 states that have passed or enacted tobacco 21 laws, covering approximately 38% of the U.S. population. Recently, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House, which also would raise the legal age of purchase to 21. This is an issue that has broad, bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.
According to FDA data, more than 20 million adult smokers in the U.S. want access to alternative products that may offer less risk than cigarettes. New and emerging technologies like e-vapor and heat-not-burn tobacco products offer tremendous promise in this area. But the FDA has made clear that the future viability of these products is in jeopardy unless more is done to reverse the underage e-vapor use trend. Raising the legal age to 21 is a pivotal step to addressing this issue.
Altria’s wholly-owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM USA), U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC), John Middleton Co. (Middleton), Sherman Group Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries (Nat Sherman), Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. (Ste. Michelle) and Philip Morris Capital Corporation (PMCC). Altria holds an equity investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev) and JUUL Labs, Inc. (JUUL).
The brand portfolios of Altria’s tobacco operating companies include Marlboro®, Black & Mild®, Copenhagen® and Skoal®. Ste. Michelle produces and markets premium wines sold under various labels, including Chateau Ste. Michelle®, Columbia Crest®, 14 Hands® and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars™, and it imports and markets Antinori®, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte™, Torres® and Villa Maria Estate™ products in the United States. Trademarks and service marks related to Altria referenced in this release are the property of Altria or its subsidiaries or are used with permission.
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