Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Pennsylvania. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Pennsylvania's elected officials:
- Increase the age of sale for all tobacco products to age 21;
- Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended level; and
- Closing loopholes in Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act and make all public places and workplaces smokefree.
Alarmingly, an amendment attached to the state budget bill eliminated the city of Philadelphia's ability to pass additional regulations on tobacco sales, giving the state legislature preemptive control. While this will not impact ordinances and regulations adopted prior to implementation, any pending or future legislation, such as a proposed flavored tobacco ordinance, will be prevented from moving forward.
Despite a strong grassroots effort, including a youth-driven campaign, while the 2017 session had introduced a Tobacco 21 co-sponsor memo in the state Senate, that legislation stalled, and a bill was not introduced in the 2018 legislative session.
Findings from a representative survey of over 3,000 Pennsylvania voters who voted in the 2016 election indicate that more than two thirds (68.4%) favor raising the legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The majority of both current and former smokers favor Tobacco 21. Additionally, over 72 percent of Democrats and over 67 percent of Republicans support the change. Only about 1 in 10 Pennsylvania voters strongly oppose raising the legal sales age for tobacco products.
The strategic plan for Pennsylvania's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program 2018-2022 was introduced and implemented. Serving as a roadmap for the next five years to decrease tobacco-related morbidity, mortality, and economic costs in Pennsylvania, the strategic plan outlines a framework to inform program goals and activities specific to tobacco control policy priorities throughout the Commonwealth.
The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to identify champions within the legislature and mobilize advocates to advance our advocacy goals, including increasing the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, increasing funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, and putting in place legislation to make all workplaces smokefree
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