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Tucson Supports Health of Residents, Youth by Raising the Minimum Sales Age for Tobacco Products to 21

Tucson takes important step to protect youth from tobacco use and save lives

(October 22, 2019) - TUSCON, AZ

For more information please contact:

Holly Harvey
[email protected]
(206) 512-3292

Elected officials in Tucson took an important step forward to significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save lives by passing a law to raise the minimum sales age of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 years old. The American Lung Association in Arizona strongly supports this new law and congratulates Tucson City Council 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 Tucson 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. And, in light of recent reports of serious illness and death due to e-cigarette use, it’s critical for this action to further protect children and young adults from starting down the path of nicotine addiction. Today, more than 27 percent of high school students are vaping – a staggering increase of more than 135 percent in just the last two years. Adolescents are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine, causing lasting, adverse consequences on brain development, which continues into the mid-20s.

“We know that about 95 percent of smokers try their first tobacco product before age 21, and many tobacco users transition from experimenting to regular tobacco use including e-cigarettes, between the ages of 18 and 21,” said JoAnna Strother, advocacy director of the American Lung Association in Arizona. “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, Tucson ordinance would greatly reduce the number of high school students who have easy access to tobacco products. 

“The American Lung Association in Arizona recognizes Tucson taking this important step to protect public health and our youth and young adults,” said Strother. “We strongly encourage other cities and ultimately the state to follow in Tucson’s footsteps and increase the sales age for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21.”

Learn more about Tobacco 21 efforts in Arizona 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 Holly Harvey at 206-512-3292 or [email protected].

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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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