Vermont Becomes 14th State in Nation to Raise the Tobacco Buying Age to 21
New law includes all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and aims to save lives and millions in healthcare costs
(May 17, 2019) - WILLISTON, Vt.
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Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed legislation yesterday making Vermont the 14th state in the nation to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. The law, known as Tobacco 21, was approved on April 30 2019, by the General Assembly and is expected to decrease the rate of tobacco use among teens by 12 percent.
Deborah Brown, Chief Mission Officer of the American Lung Association, praised the move as an important one for statewide public health policy.
"Today, the State of Vermont took a significant step in protecting the health and wellness of its residents – and we are proud to congratulate Phil Scott and the Vermont legislature for their bold leadership in protecting young people from a dangerous addiction to tobacco. We already know that adolescents and young adults have proven to be uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction, making this legislation an important, lifesaving measure. With the rise of easily concealable devices and fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products, Tobacco 21 is more important now than ever before in order to protect children, reduce smoking rates, save on healthcare costs and prevent tobacco-related death and disease. We are eager to celebrate the passage of this law in Vermont, and will continue our work in fighting for it across the nation."
The new law was introduced this session by Senators Virginia Lyons and Deborah Ingram, following a December 2018 announcement by the U.S. Surgeon General calling youth e-cigarette use an epidemic. According the announcement, e-cigarette use increased by a staggering 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018. The report warned that this dramatic change in youth tobacco use could set the stage for another generation of Americans addicted to tobacco products and ultimately more tobacco-caused death and disease.
Elizabeth Hamlin-Berninger, Director of Advocacy in Vermont for the American Lung Association said, "According to the American Lung Association's 2019 ‘State of Tobacco Control' report, over 18 percent of Vermont's high school students reported using tobacco products. This law gives us a real opportunity to reduce that number, and prevent more tobacco addiction among our younger generations. Simply, raising the age of sale will reduce the consumption, availability and visibility of these products to our young people – and sends a clear message to parents and guardians that all tobacco products are dangerous and have significant health impacts.
Nearly 95 percent of adult smokers report trying their first cigarette before the age of 21. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) found increasing the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer – the nation's #1 cancer killer.
To date, statewide Tobacco 21 policies have been passed in Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington, requiring consumers to be 21 years of age to purchase tobacco products. Other states such as New York and Connecticut are currently considering similar legislation. The Vermont law is slated to go into effect on September 1.
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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