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Age to buy cigarettes, vape pens and the like rises to 21

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — You now must be at least 21 to buy cigarettes in Vermont.

A new law that raised the minimum age from 18 to buy tobacco products and electronic cigarettes went into effect on Sunday.

Vermont is among 18 states that have boosted the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. In New England, Massachusetts' law went into effect at the end of last year, and Maine's took effect last July after the Legislature overrode a veto by then-Gov. Paul LePage.

Nearly all smokers start as kids or young adults, and ages 18 to 21 are a key time when many smokers go from experimental smoking to regular, daily smoking, the campaign said.

"Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will help to prevent young people from ever starting to smoke and to reduce the deaths, disease and health care costs caused by tobacco use," it says on its website.

Vermont retailers are doing what they can to comply, including training employees and having the proper signs, though there is concern about the loss in revenue, Erin Sigrist, president of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, said.

"There are requests or demands from every legislative session on businesses across the state. And now we're talking about losing revenue, so if there are new financial demands coming up and we're losing revenue, how are we going to make up those costs in order to provide additional benefits or increase minimum wage? The money has to come from somewhere," she said.