"I hope my legislation will earn strong, bipartisan support in the Senate", McConnell said.
Speaking at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in Louisville on Thursday, McConnell said his new legislation will tackle the growing use of vaping products; more teens have been trading in cigarettes for the electronic counterparts, which some have branded safer.
McConnell said this is important to protect the health of teenagers.
McConnell made the announcement in Louisville, at the office of an organization that promotes health initiatives in Kentucky.
Mr McConnell's proposed law will mirror those state laws already in place.
Studies have shown that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 would have a dramatic effect on the number of teens who smoke or use e-cigarettes.
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Smoking-related illness costs to society exceed $300 billion each year including $170 billion in direct medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said 34 percent of cancers in Kentucky are directly tied to smoking. In addition, we all know people who started smoking at a young age and who struggled to quit as adults.
Louisville, the place of Mr McConnell's announcement, is home to some of the highest cancer rates across the U.S., with 34% of cancers in the state linked directly with smoking.
Senator Mitch McConnell, long one of the tobacco industry's loyal allies, said on Thursday that he would sponsor legislation to raise the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco and e-cigarettes.
McConnell said the most serious threat is teens under the age of 18 having access to vaping devices.
According to CDC data, about 8 percent of high schoolers said they had recently smoked cigarettes in 2018, and about 2 percent of middle schoolers did.
It also found that about two in five high school students who used a vaping or tobacco product used more than one kind, and that the most common combination was e-cigarettes and cigarettes. "My legislation will be similar to the current system, where retailers have the responsibility to verify the age of anyone buying tobacco products-we'll just raise the age from 18 to 21". Tobacco companies are actually publicly on board with the federal legislation - and similar measures gaining traction at the state-level - in part to distance themselves from accusations that they've been marketing to youth.