November 16, 2017 is National Quit Day. A day dedicated to encouraging smokers across the nation quit smoking. Did you know that 95% of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21 years old? Several states across the country, like California, Oregon and Hawaii, have already realized that by increasing the tobacco purchase age to 21, we will have a dramatic impact on the youth tobacco initiation rates.
hero_image_alt_text===Pack of cigarettes in front of sing that says Under 21 No Tobacco
thumbnail_alt_text===Pack of cigarettes in front of sing that says Under 21 No Tobacco
A report by the Institute of Medicine found that increasing the purchasing age for tobacco products will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking; reduce smoking-caused deaths; and immediately improve the health of adolescents and young adults who would be deterred from ever picking up their first cigarette.
Here in Arizona, two trailblazing communities have already accomplished this task, Cottonwood and Douglas, and several others are working on increasing the purchase age through the advocacy work of their local anti-tobacco youth groups. The AHA has joined forces with the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the March of Dimes and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to work at the state level to advocate for a statewide increase in the tobacco purchase age.
Let’s work together to keep our youth away from tobacco for as long as possible. Then maybe someday, the third Thursday in November will simply be just that, a Thursday, instead of a day where we encourage people to give up one of the most addictive and harmful substances in the world.