This year the American Heart Association is working to pass legislation to become the third state in nation to increase the state minimum legal sales age to purchase tobacco to 21. Hawaii, California and 215 localities have all passed Tobacco 21 legislation, and we want Connecticut to be a leader in this movement.
Earlier this month, the AHA and our coalition partners testified in support of CT’s Tobacco 21 bill before the Public Health Committee. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S., and smoking is the #1 cause of heart disease. In CT, 4,300 adults die each year from their own smoking. 56,000 of our state’s kids who are now under age 18 will eventually die prematurely from smoking. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. We know Tobacco 21 will save lives!
Opposition has mainly been done “behind the scenes” by the tobacco industry, who has quietly mentioned that passing Tobacco 21 could result in loss of significant tax revenue. In yet another year in which CT faces a budget deficit, and despite numerous health related statistics, facts, and data that support increasing the purchase age, it will be an uphill battle to successfully pass this legislation.
In the attached picture, lobbying to increase the tobacco purchase in CT to 21, are from left to right: Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz; Pat Checko (MATCH Coalition); Jim Williams, American Heart Association; Ruth Canovi, American Lung Association, and; Bryte Johnson, American Cancer Society.