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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Michigan. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Michigan's elected officials:

  1. Pass a state law to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 in Michigan;
  2. Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; and
  3. Match the tax on non-cigarette forms of tobacco like spit tobacco, cigars and hookah to the cigarette tax.
2019 will bring a change in governor's office as term-limits prevented Governor Rick Snyder from running for a third term. The American Lung Association in Michigan hopes the new administration will be supportive of increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cession services. Michigan currently only spends 4.5 percent of what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a state of our size. The legislature is expected to remain resistant to tax increases, so support for an increase in tobacco taxes is not likely to be considered this year.

The American Lung Association in Michigan worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to help promote a statewide law in Michigan to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 often referred to as Tobacco 21 law. House Bill 4736, is a part of a four-bill bipartisan package that would also add restrictions on other smoking and tobacco products. In addition to raising the smoking age, the bill would raise the fines for those who sell tobacco or related items to underage customers. It would also make breaking the law a lower offense—from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction—and would raise fines from $50 to $1,000 for a first offense.

While the bill remained stuck in the House Committee on Regulatory Reform, it is hoped that the new legislature will hold a hearing on this legislation to begin the dialog on why this is important to the health of Michigan's youth. The local Genesee County Tobacco 21 Ordinance remains unenforceable due to a Circuit Court ruling that the ordinance is preempted by the state's Age of Majority Act. That ruling is being appealed, but it just reinforces the need for a statewide Tobacco 21 law.

Polls show that 65 percent of Michigan voters support raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21. The Lung Association in Michigan believes now is the time to act.

As we look ahead to 2019, the American Lung Association in Michigan will continue to work with a broad coalition of stakeholders to advocate for increased funding for evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation services, and to pass a state Tobacco 21 law in Michigan

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