Utah Becomes Eighth State in Nation to Increase Tobacco Selling Age to 21
(March 27, 2019) - SALT LAKE CITY
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Today, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed bill House Bill 324 into law, which will incrementally raise the legal sales age of tobacco products to 21. The law changes the age from 19 to 20 on July 1, 2020, and to 21 one year later.
The law, known as Tobacco 21, is expected to decrease the rate of tobacco use among teens by 25 percent. The American Lung Association is happy that state lawmakers passed Tobacco 21 because it is vital to community health, however, has reservations about the exception in the law for active members of the military and their spouses, as well as the preemption in the law which denies local governments the authority to pass their own Tobacco 21 law before the state’s incremental increase.
“While this isn’t a perfect bill, we’re happy to see some new measures put into place to protect kids in Utah from tobacco,” said JoAnna Strother, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association.
“Utah becomes the eighth state to pass a Tobacco 21 law, which protects children, reduces smoking rates, saves on healthcare costs and saves lives. With the youth e-cigarette epidemic and the rise of easily concealable and fruit and candy flavored tobacco products Tobacco 21 is important now more than ever.”
“While this is a win for health in Utah, there is still work to do to protect our citizens from the death and disease associated with tobacco use. The Lung Association will continue our work in fighting for strong laws across the nation,” said Strother.
Since nearly 95 percent of adult smokers report trying their first cigarette before the age of 21, raising the legal sales age can prevent young people from ever starting to smoke.
Utah becomes the eighth state to adopt the law, joining California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia.
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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