New Hampshire youth rates of tobacco use have declined dramatically in just a few years.
The NH Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed in 2011, 19.8% of kids under the age of 18 reported using tobacco products– and in 2015 only 9.3% reported they smoked cigarettes. However, the tobacco industry is still busy developing new ways to get youth hooked on beginning a habit that can last well into adulthood. For instance, far too many kids are now reporting using ‘electronic nicotine delivery systems, also known as E-cigarettes or vapor products. Tobacco use is still a leading cause of death and E-cigarettes are just one more gateway product to nicotine addiction. Though the legal age to buy tobacco, including E-cigarettes, is 18 years, many younger kids are in the same social circles and are getting access through these older, legal purchasers. One policy that is gaining traction across the northeast is raising the minimum purchase age for tobacco to 21 from 18. This will broaden the age difference between younger school kids and those who are ‘of age’. The American Heart Association looks forward to working with advocates on this and other tobacco use prevention policies in New Hampshire.