Legislation has been introduced at the Rhode Island State House that would raise the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. The American Heart Association and our partners at the American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are supporting this important proposal.
Click here to view the General Assembly’s press release on this issue: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/pressrelease/_layouts/RIL.PressRelease.ListStructure/Forms/DisplayForm.aspx?List=c8baae31-3c10-431c-8dcd-9dbbe21ce3e9&ID=11416
Tobacco use continues to be a significant public health concern and a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Though we have made some great strides, nearly 25% of high school students still report using tobacco products, and the U.S. Surgeon General estimated that nearly 6 million children will die prematurely in adulthood if current trends continue. Further, in 2013, 2.1 million people smoked cigarettes for the first time, half of which were under the age of 18. In fact, nearly 90% of smokers begin before age 18, and 95% begin before turning 26.
Because of the addictive nature of nicotine, experimentation or initiation of tobacco use among youth and young adults is particularly troubling. This is a critical period for growth and development, one during which the brain may be especially susceptible and sensitive to the effects of nicotine. Increasing the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 would reduce our youth’s access to, and use of, these deadly products.
For more information, view our fact sheet: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_479895.pdf