Palmer White ’22
The Connecticut Legislature recently passed a law—to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2019—prohibiting the sale of cigarettes, cigars, vapor devices, electronic cigarettes, and all other tobacco products and paraphernalia to people under the age of 21. The law also states that various taxes will now be imposed on the sellers of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and failure to comply in paying such taxes will result in fines of varying degree.
Connecticut is not the only state imposing such legislation, as California, Maryland, and New York have recently passed similar laws. The primary intention behind these newly established regulations is to attempt to prevent tobacco addiction among youth by reducing their access to such products. 95% of smokers establish their habit before the age of 21, which ultimately contributes to difficulties in the quitting process. For this reason, it is considered important—and more effective—that preventative measures are taken, rather than corrective ones.
Trinity College, as an educational institution in the state of Connecticut, is obliged to enforce all laws—municipal, federal, and state—passed by the Connecticut Legislature. This means that people under the age of 21 are restricted from using cigarettes, vaping devices, and all other products that are included in the new law will be monitored for age-restricted use on Trinity’s campus. Furthermore, creating smoke of any kind—cigarette, cigar, vaping device, candle, and incense—is prohibited in all Trinity College owned buildings, regardless of the user’s age.
Director of Residential Life Susan Salisbury expressed that at this point in time, no one is able to foresee how these laws will affect student behavior toward tobacco use. Additionally, it is unclear how the new laws will be enforced on campus. Roughly 3/4 of the student body is under the age of 21, however the remaining 1/4—along with faculty and staff—are over the age of 21. This makes it difficult to determine who is legally smoking in the designated “Smoke-Friendly” areas on campus.
However, added Salisbury, “our purpose is not to get you into trouble. We need to educate you—and that’s how we’ll treat it…We have to remind [students] that this is the law of Connecticut, and going forward we have no choice but to enforce that law.” At present, Residential Life is “addressing—as a department—[problems] inside our buildings,” Salisbury added. Salisbury continued, indicating that she hopes that these recently instated regulations will further educate students about the dangers that come with use the tobaccco and nicotine products.