CHICAGO, IL | April 3, 2019
Statement of Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association, in response to the introduction of the Tobacco to 21 Act by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a bipartisan, bicameral effort to raise the federal minimum age of sales for tobacco products to 21 nationwide:
“The American Lung Association strongly supports the Tobacco to 21 Act introduced by Senators Schatz and Young and Representatives DeGette and Stewart today. This bill will raise the minimum age of sale to 21 for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars and hookah. This bill will also reduce the number of young people who use and become addicted to tobacco products, and as a result, save hundreds of thousands of lives by reducing the disease and premature death that these products cause.
“This legislation is being introduced at a critical time, as the U.S. faces an e-cigarette epidemic among youth. Increasing the age for sale of tobacco products to 21 will help keep tobacco out of high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools, where younger teens and kids often obtain tobacco products from older students. In 2015, the then Institute of Medicine concluded that increasing the tobacco sales age would reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking; reduce smoking-caused death and immediately improve the health of young people.
“Tobacco use almost always begins during adolescence and young adulthood, and currently about 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of the public strongly supports Tobacco 21 laws. Many states have passed these laws in recent years to protect kids, and while twelve states led by Hawaii have passed Tobacco 21 laws, children in every state need and deserve this health protection.
“The Tobacco to 21 Act will be an important step to protect kids from the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, and we urge our nation’s leaders to quickly pass this lifesaving legislation. Increasing the minimum age of sale to 21 in combination with removing all flavored tobacco products from the marketplace and other proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use will end this epidemic.
“The science is clear: raising the age of sale for tobacco products will save lives and help protect our nation’s youth from a lifetime of addiction and disease associated with this deadly product. The American Lung Association strongly supports this legislation and encourages Congress to move swiftly to protect the lives of our children by passing the Tobacco to 21 Act.”
Learn more about youth tobacco use and Tobacco 21 legislation at Lung.org/tobacco21. For media interested in speaking with a policy or health expert about youth tobacco use, Tobacco 21 laws, e-cigarettes and lung health, contact Allison MacMunn at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is 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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