Fort Lauderdale Supports Health of Residents, Youth by Raising the Minimum Sales Age for Tobacco Products to 21
Fort Lauderdale takes important step to protect youth from tobacco use and save lives
(September 16, 2019) - Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Elected officials in Fort Lauderdale took an important step forward to significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save lives by passing legislation to raise the minimum legal sales age of all tobacco products to 21 years old. The American Lung Association in Florida strongly supports this new ordinance and congratulates Fort Lauderdale on its passage. The American Lung Association in Florida continues to encourage the City Commission to implement strategies to hold retailers accountable for illegal sales, including the implementation of local tobacco retail licensing and a dedicated enforcement agency to provide annual compliance checks.
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 Fort Lauderdale 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 Ashley Lyerly, Director of Advocacy of the American Lung Association in Florida. “This is a critical time to protect our youth and young adults from the dangers of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.
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, Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance would greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products.
“The American Lung Association in Florida recognizes Fort Lauderdale for taking this important step to protect public health and our youth and young adults,” said Lyerly. “We strongly encourage other cities and ultimately the state to follow in Fort Lauderdale’s footsteps and increase the legal sales age for all tobacco products to 21.”
Learn more about Tobacco 21 efforts in Florida 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 Britney Stewart at [email protected] or 470-233-7030.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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