Health Officials Pushing to Increase Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco

Tobacco 21 is being led by the American Lung Association.

DULUTH, Minn.- The FDA is calling youth smoking an epidemic and a push to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 is coming through Duluth and Hermantown.

Tobacco 21 is being led by the American Lung Association.

Organizers tell us tightening the age restriction would make a positive impact. The menthol ban as just a big step to take tobacco products out of the sight of youth. But they believe tobacco 21 could be the extra protection that would take them out of reach. Officials with the American Lung Association tell us they’ve spoken with students who say 18–year–olds provide them with tobacco products. The hope is upping the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 would keep it out of the high school environment.

“The teenage brain is just so susceptible to addiction and nicotine is linked very closely to the same sort of addiction as heroin the way it works in our brain,” health promotions manager Amanda Casady said.

Recent studies show if the legal age increased to 21 there would be an estimated 25 percent reduction seen in teens who initially start smoking from ages 15 to 17 according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Around 310 communities in 20 different states have already adopted the 21 tobacco policy. States including California, New Jersey, Maine, Hawaii and Oregon enforce it statewide.

Obviously, not everyone believes increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco is a necessary or effective idea. The American Lung Association says they need word of mouth and people expressing support of tobacco 21 to your local lawmakers for this push to be successful.

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