New Jersey Supports Health of Residents, Youth by Raising the Minimum Sales Age for Tobacco Products to 21
New Jersey takes important step to protect youth from tobacco use and save lives
(July 21, 2017) -
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Governor Christie and the New Jersey legislature took an important step forward to significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save lives by passing legislation #A2320 to raise the minimum sales age of all tobacco products to 21 years old. The American Lung Association in New Jersey strongly supports this new legislation and congratulates New Jersey on its passage.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., and increasing the sales age for tobacco products could have a big impact on youth tobacco use in New Jersey and across the nation. According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine, nationwide 223,000 deaths can be prevented among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation’s leading cancer killer.
Tobacco use is a serious health hazard, causing or worsening a wide range of adverse health effects, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Adolescents and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction, causing lasting, adverse consequences on brain development, which continues into the mid-20s.
“We know that about 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette before age 21, and many tobacco users transition from experimenting to regular tobacco use between the ages of 18 and 21,” said Deb Brown, Executive Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Lung Association. “This is a critical time to protect our youth and young adults from the dangers of tobacco use and nicotine addiction. The urge to experiment is natural, but that doesn’t mean youth and young adults are seeking to get hooked on tobacco their entire lives.”
Every day, close to 2,500 youth under 18 try their first cigarette and more than 400 kids become regular daily smokers. Two-thirds of 10th grade students and nearly half of 8th grade students say it is easy to get cigarettes. According to the National Academy of Medicine report, younger kids often rely on older friends, classmates and peers to buy their tobacco products. Because students typically do not reach 21 years old while still in high school, New Jersey’s new law will greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products.
“The American Lung Association in New Jersey thanks Governor Christie and the state legislature for taking this important step to protect public health and our youth and young adults,” said Brown.
Learn more about Tobacco 21 efforts in New Jersey through the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report. For media interested in speaking with an expert about tobacco control and youth use of tobacco, contact Deb Brown, 302-737-6414, 522 or Deb.Brown@lung.org