INFORMATION FOR TEENS, YOUNG ADULTS, PARENTS, AND RETAILERS
• Considering smoking or vaping?
• Looking for help quitting?
• Seeking more information about the Georgia state law that raises the legal smoking age to 21?
Below you’ll find information that dispels myths about the relative safety of vaping, directs teens and young people to a range of resources to get help quitting, and explains what teens, parents, and retailers should know about the new state smoking age law.
Dangers of Cigarettes and e-Cigarettes
There’s a lot of misinformation in marketing and social media that has led many people to believe that e-cigarettes and vaping are safe. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. And thinking vaping is OK could lead to a lot of problems for your physical and mental health.
Here’s the real story about vaping.
The American Lung Association reports that these toxic chemicals and metals have all been found in e-cigarettes:
• Nicotine – a highly addictive substance that negatively affects adolescent brain development. 99% of all e-cigarette products contain nicotine, the same addictive drug found in other tobacco products. The brains of youth and young adults are more vulnerable to nicotine’s harmful health effects. These include reduced impulse control, stress, anxiety, depression, other mood disorders, and poor attention and thinking skills.
• Propylene glycol – a common additive in food; also used to make things like antifreeze, paint solvent, and artificial smoke in fog machines
• Carcinogens– chemicals known to cause cancer, including acetaldehyde and formaldehyde
• Acrolein – a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds, can cause irreversible lung damage
• Diacetyl – a chemical linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans aka “popcorn lung”
• Diethylene glycol – a toxic chemical used in antifreeze that is linked to lung disease
• Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, lead
• Cadmium – a toxic metal found in traditional cigarettes that causes breathing problems and disease
• Benzene – a volatile organic compound (VOC) found in car exhaust
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
• Some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.
• Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.
• Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.
Vaping is also harmful to those around you, even if they don’t vape. Both the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have warned about the risks of inhaling secondhand e-cigarette emissions, which are created when an e-cigarette user exhales the chemical cocktail created by e-cigarettes.
Ready to quit vaping now? Here are some resources to help.
Georgia’s Tobacco 21 Law
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
OCGA §16-12-171 or the Georgia Tobacco 21 Law raises the minimum legal age for sales of tobacco, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine, and vapor products from 18 to 21. More specifically, the law states that:
• It is unlawful for any person to sell or barter, directly or indirectly any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products to any individual under the age of 21.
• It is unlawful for any person to purchase any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products for any individual under the age of 21.
• It is unlawful for any person to advise, counsel, or compel any individual under the age of 21 years to smoke, inhale, chew, or use cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products.
• It is unlawful for any individual under the age of 21 to purchase, use or possess any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products.
• It is unlawful for any individual to knowingly use a vapor product within a school safety zone.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE UNDER 21 VIOLATES THIS LAW?
Anyone under the age of 21 years who is caught smoking or vaping may be subject to the following penalties:
• Up to 20 hours of community service related to increasing awareness of the health hazards of smoking and vaping or tobacco and vapor product use
• Required attendance at a publicly or privately sponsored lecture or discussion on the health hazards of smoking and vaping or tobacco and vapor product use
• If a person under 21 fails to complete the community service, or for a third or subsequent violation within the same calendar year as the first violation, they may have their driver’s license suspended for up to 45 days
Here are some answers to common questions about the law, which went into effect on July 22, 2020:
What is defined as a cigarette?
A cigarette means roll for smoking made wholly or in part of tobacco when the cover of the roll is paper or any substance other than tobacco.
What is defined as a tobacco product?
A tobacco product means any cigars, little cigars, granulated, plug cur, crimp cut, ready rubbed, and other smoking tobacco; snuff or snuff powder; cavendish; plug and twist tobacco; fine-cut and other chewing tobaccos; shorts, refuse scraps, clippings, cuttings, and sweepings of tobacco; and other kinds and forms of tobacco prepared in such a manner as to be suitable for chewing or smoking in a pipe or otherwise, or both chewing and smoking.
What is defined as a tobacco related product?
Tobacco related objects means any papers, wrappers, or other products, devices, or substances, including cigar wraps, which are used for the purpose of making cigarettes or tobacco products in any form.
What is defined as a vapor product?
Vapor product means any noncombustible product containing nicotine that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit, or other electronic, chemical, or mechanical means, regardless of shape or size that can be used to produce vapor or aerosol from nicotine or other substances in a solution or other form. Such term vapor product shall include, but shall not be limited to, any electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or similar product or device and any vapor or aerosol cartridge or other container of nicotine or other substance in a solution or other form, including, but not limited to, a device component, part, or accessory of the device, that is intended to be used with or in an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or similar product or device.
What is defined as an alternative nicotine product?
An alternative nicotine product means any noncombustible product containing nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether chewed, absorbed, dissolved, or ingested by any other means.
MORE INFORMATION FOR RETAILERS
How will the new minimum legal sales age affect age verification?
The seller of any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products must first verify an individual’s age by means of any document issued by a governmental agency containing a description of the individual, the individual’s photograph, or both, and giving the individual’s date of birth and includes, without being limited to, a passport, military identification card, driver’s license, or a State of Georgia ID Card.
What signage is required in businesses that sell items regulated under this law?
Any business that sells products regulated by this law must post a sign that contains the following statement:
SALE OF CIGARETTES, TOBACCO, TOBACCO PRODUCTS, TOBACCO RELATED OBJECTS, ALTERATIVE NICOTINE PRODUCTS, OR VAPOR PRODUCTS TO INDIVIDUALS UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE IS PROHIBITED BY LAW
What if I sell tobacco through a vending machine?
Any business that maintains a vending machine which dispenses cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products must post a sign that contains the following statement:
THE PURCHASE OF CIGARETTES, TOBACCO PRODUCTS, TOBACCO RELATED OBJECTS, ALTERNATIVE NICOTINE PRODUCTS, OR VAPOR PRODUCTS FROM THIS VENDING MACHINE BY ANY INDIVIDUAL UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE IS PROHIBITED BY LAW
Products may be sold from a vending machine only if the machine is in locations which are not readily accessible to individuals under the age of 21 years, including, places which are not open to the general public; places open to the general public which do not admit individuals under the age of 21 years; and is located in a place that is not open to the general public and not generally accessible to anyone under the age of 21.
What are the penalties for violation?
Any individual seller who violates the Tobacco 21 law in Georgia is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Any person knowingly who allows an individual under the age of 21 years to operate a vending machine which dispenses cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Any person that maintains a vending machine that fails to comply with the requirements shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
It is a misdemeanor offense for any individual 21 or older to knowingly use a vapor product in a school safety zone.
As a retailer, what is my role in Tobacco 21?
As a retailer, you are a vital community partner in reducing youth and young adults’ access to any tobacco products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nicotine is highly addictive and harms brain development for adolescents and youth. Complying with the law, you are helping to improve the life-long health and well-being of youth and young adults. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has developed a program called “This is Our Watch” to help retailers understand both the importance of compliance with tobacco regulations as well as this greater purpose in protecting our nation’s youth.
Resources to Help You Stop Smoking
Congratulations on your decision to quit tobacco and/or vaping!
You’ve taken a very important step for your physical and mental health. Many of us have been there too, and we know that the quitting journey can be tough. So we want YOU to know that you are not alone. You can do this! And we’ve got your back.
Following are a number of free resources that give you a helping hand and just the right encouragement whenever you could use it:
• Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (GTQL)
GTQL is a FREE service, available 24/7, that provides one-on-one personal counseling via telephone, text, and web-based options to help anyone over 13 quit smoking and vaping. And while supplies last, GTQL is offering certain nicotine replacement therapies free of charge for individuals who enroll.
English 1-877-270-STOP (7867)
Spanish 1-877-NO FUME (66-3863)
• This is Quitting
This is Quitting is a unique confidential quit program where young people text with other young people to help them quit vaping.
Teens and young adults can get started by texting VAPEFREEGA to 88709
Parents of kids who vape can also receive support by texting QUIT to 202-899-7550
In addition, the Fulton County Board of Health works with local community organizations to provide free group smoking cessation programs.
To learn more or sign up for any of the following programs or host a program at your school or organization, contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Freedom from Smoking (FFS)
The American Lung Association created this proven, eight-week smoking cessation program that teaches participants age 18+ to set a quit date, build a quit plan, and learn how to stay smoke-free. This free, small group program can take place virtually or in person.
• Not on Tobacco Program (NOT)
This free group program consists of 10 weekly sessions plus 4 booster sessions that help teens quit smoking, reduce the number of cigarettes smoked if unable to quit, increase healthy lifestyle behaviors, and improve life skills.
• Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health (INDEPTH)
This free, interactive program helps schools and communities address teen vaping in a supportive way. Instead of solely focusing on punitive measures, INDEPTH teaches 9th-12th grade students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives to smoking and vaping, and kicking an unhealthy addiction that also gets teens into trouble.