American Lung Association Applauds Delaware for Supporting Health of Residents, Youth by Raising the Minimum Sales Age for Tobacco Products to 21
Delaware takes important step to protect youth from tobacco use and save lives; Legislation includes e-cigarettes
(April 11, 2019) - NEWARK, De.
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Elected officials in Delaware took an important step forward to significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save lives by passing legislation in the House today by a 25-16 margin to raise the minimum sales age of all tobacco products – including e-cigarettes - to 21 years old. The American Lung Association in Delaware strongly supports this new legislation and congratulates Delaware lawmakers on its passage, especially sponsor Senator Bryan Townsend for his leadership on this important issue.
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 Delaware 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. The Lung Association also applauds the state for taking action to protect youth from tobacco, because youth e-cigarette use is reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase among high school students from 2017 to 2018, according to results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
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 Deborah Brown, Chief Mission Officer, American Lung Association. "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 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, Delaware's Tobacco 21 legislation will greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products – including e-cigarettes.
"The American Lung Association in Delaware recognizes Senator Townsend, Representative Minor Brown and state legislators for taking this important step to protect public health and our youth and young adults," said Brown. "We look forward to Governor John Carney quickly signing this measure into law and call on other states to follow in Delaware's footsteps and increase the sales age for all tobacco products to 21."
Learn more about Tobacco 21 efforts in Delaware 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 American Lung Association Senior Communications Director, James A. Martinez at 312-445-2501 or at [email protected].
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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