Raising the Tobacco Purchase Age to 21


Guest Blogger: Amanda Cahill, Montana Government Relations Director

The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association is currently advocating for new laws across the country to raise the tobacco minimum purchase age to 21 and we hope Montana will be the next state to take this important step! 

According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 will have a substantial impact on public health and save “hundreds of thousands of lives.”  Those who begin smoking before the age of 21 are especially prone to a lifetime of smoking because their brains are still developing.  In fact, 95% of adult smokers begin the habit before the age of 21. 

In Montana, 13.1% (6,600) of high school students are current smokers, and 29.5% use e-cigarettes.   The tobacco industry spends an estimated $30 million marketing to Montanans each year.  This does not include what the industry spends to lobby against any tobacco restrictions such as smoke-free air or e-cigarette legislation. 

The annual healthcare costs directly related to smoking in Montana are $440 million dollars per year, with a tax burden of $829 per household.  Yes, that means YOU are spending money each year to pay for the negative outcomes that the tobacco industry supports.  Raising the minimum sales age is one way to fight against this as well as ensure a healthier future for generations to come. 

Recently, California and Hawaii have passed state laws requiring a person to be 21 to purchase a tobacco product.  An additional 135 cities nationwide, including Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, have also passed this policy. 

If you would like to get involved in the Montana Tobacco to 21 Campaign, contact me Amanda Cahill at [email protected]


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