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Federal legislators seek ban on tobacco products for those under 21


From Illinois Business Journal news services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and nine other colleagues are calling for legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21.

Senators on Wednesday introduced the Tobacco to 21 Act (S.2100). A companion measure was introduced in the House.

“Thanks to tobacco control measures like banning smoking in public places and placing warning labels on cigarette cartons, far fewer people smoke now than did 50 years ago,” said Durbin. “As a result, far fewer families have lost loved ones to tobacco-related disease and death. But we still have a long way to go. We can help prevent a new generation from falling prey to this deadly epidemic by passing another commonsense measure to reduce youth tobacco use: raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21.”

In the last 50 years, nearly 21 million people in the United States have died due to tobacco-related illnesses, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine found that raising the legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.

Senators co-sponsoring the bill are: Ed Markey, D-Mass., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,  Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal. D-Conn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Mark Takai, D-Hawaii.

The Tobacco to 21 Act is supported by the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academic Pediatric Association, American Pediatric Society, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Veterans (AMVETS), American Public Health Association, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Trust for America’s Health, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, First Focus Campaign for Children, Pediatric Policy Council, Society for Pediatric Research, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Hawai‘i Medical Service Association, and Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii

A copy of the bill is here.

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