On Wednesday, March 2nd, the Public Health committee held a public hearing on a number of bills, one of which was a proposal to raise the minimum purchase age to 21 for tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and vapor products. The American Heart Association and other health advocacy groups testified in favor of Senate Bill 290, which will ultimately help to build healthier lives for CT children. There are some staggering statistics about this issue that you may not know:
•Approximately 13 percent of CT High School students smoke.
•56,000 CT kids who are now under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
•$2.3B in annual health care costs in CT are directly caused by smoking, $520M of which is covered by the Medicaid program.
•The federal and state tax burden for CT residents from smoking-caused government expenditures is $916 per household.
These statistics are especially important because most teens who smoke and use tobacco report getting cigarettes and other products from their friends, and 90% of those who provide cigarettes to younger teens are under the age of 21. Many other states are working on this issue as well. We look to join Hawaii, which became to first state to pass such legislation in June 2015.