Tobacco 21 | American Lung Association
 
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Tobacco 21

Minimum Age of Sale to 21

A new grading category was added for states in "State of Tobacco Control" 2017 that evaluates states on whether they have increased the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 also referred to as Tobacco 21 laws.

In March 2015, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) issued a report looking at the effect increasing the age of sale for tobacco products could have on youth smoking rates. The report concluded that increasing the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation's leading cancer killer.1

Grades were awarded in this category based on whether a state had increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Letter grades were deducted based on if groups, like active duty military, were exempted from the age of sale of 21, some tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes were exempted or the age of sale was 19 or 20 years old.

Grades break down as follows:
A = age of sale for all tobacco products is 21 years of age with no exceptions;
B = age of sale for all tobacco products is 21 years of age, but certain groups, such as active duty military are exempted;
D = age of sale for all tobacco products is 19 or 20 years old and/or one or more types of tobacco products are exempted from a law increasing the age of sale to 21; and
F = age of sale for some or all tobacco products is 18 years of age.

There is one situation that creates an exception to the grading system:

  • Local Ordinances: States without a statewide age of sale for tobacco products of 21 years old may be graded on the basis of local ordinances. Local ordinances that increase the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 are considered according to the percentage of population covered in a given state. States with over 95 percent of their population covered by local Tobacco 21 ordinances will receive an "A," over 80 percent a "B," over 65 percent a "C" and over 50 percent a "D." Local ordinances that cover less than 50 percent of the population will not be considered for evaluation under this exception.
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