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Andy DeLoreto, Rhode Island

Andy recently testified at the State House on the American Heart Association's Tobacco 21 proposal.

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We would like to extend sincere thanks to Andy DeLoreto for his passion, dedication, and commitment to the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association! Andy recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on our #Tobacco21RI bill that would raise the sale age for tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes) from 18 to 21.

As part of his testimony, Andy shared his personal story with committee members:
• I have suffered two strokes, but I truly believe that my healthy lifestyle aided in my recovery. I never smoked or used tobacco products – and I always ate healthy and exercised.
• I started volunteering with the American Heart Association because I want to help make a difference for the next generation.
• I want to advocate for policies that focus on preventing heart disease and stroke. And for those that suffer a stroke or cardiac emergency due to underlying medical conditions (like me) – I want to make sure they are healthy & strong and have the best chance for a full recovery.
• You have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference with the bill that is before you today.

He also asked the committee to consider the facts:
• 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.
• The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use.
• 90% of those who provide tobacco products to younger kids fall in the 18-21 age range.
• Raising the tobacco sale age to 21 would reduce the likelihood that a high school student will be able to legally purchase tobacco products for other students and underage friends.
• Sadly, 16,000 kids now under 18 and live in Rhode Island will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
• The annual health care costs in Rhode Island directly caused by smoking total $640 million – with more than $216 million of these expenditures incurred by the Medicaid program.
• The use of electronic cigarettes among youth is cause for serious concern. An alarming 19.3 percent of Rhode Island high school students use electronic cigarettes. This is significantly higher than the national average of 11.3 percent.
• 75 percent of adults – including 7 in 10 smokers – support increasing the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products to 21.
• 5 states have already done this (Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Maine and Oregon)

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