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It's Time to Raise the Tobacco Sales Age to 21

Video created on July 16, 2018

Increasing the minimum legal sales age from 18 to 21 will save lives & create a healthier future.

Tobacco use is our nation's leading cause of preventable death.

Smoking kills 1,300 people every day, and more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. If tobacco use continues at current rates, more than five million Americans currently under the age of 18 are expected to die as a result.

Tobacco users start young.

Research demonstrates that people who begin smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction than those who start at a later age. In fact, virtually all (94 percent) of adult smokers had their first cigarette before turning 21, and most (81 percent) before age 18.

By raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco to 21, we can greatly reduce tobacco's impact throughout high schools, where younger students often rely on 18- or 19-year-old friends to supply their tobacco products. And we can directly counteract the tobacco industry's efforts to encourage youth to experiment with tobacco products.

Raising the tobacco sales age will save lives.

If the minimum legal sales age for tobacco were increased to 21, we could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019— including 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer, the nation's leading cancer killer. 

One of the best ways to protect today's youth and reduce tobacco addiction now and in the future is to raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21. We encourage states and communities to follow the lead of California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., New York City and more—and increase the tobacco sales age to 21.

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