Tobacco21 calls for policy change to raise the age to legally purchase tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21.
Due to a proliferation of new products The National Youth Tobacco Survey reports that in 2017 1 in 5 high schoolers used tobacco products, and 1 in 10 used multiple tobacco products. Clever marketing by the tobacco industry, pushing small cigars, hookahs, e-cigarettes, and flavored vaping products, has put millions of young people at risk of lifelong lethal nicotine addiction.
Age 21 protects younger teens better
The younger the buyer is, the less likely they are to achieve a purchase. Moreover, most social sources of tobacco for teens are themselves younger than 21. Age 21 reduces initiation in younger kids and inhibits consolidation of addiction in older teens.
Pennsylvania currently has an above average rate of high school smoking and adult smoking. An estimated 244,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die early due to smoking, with 6,000 children becoming daily smokers every year. The high school student’s e-cigarette usage rate is currently 11.3%, and undoubtedly is driving up Pennsylvania’s overall youth tobacco use rates as well.
The result is an annual health care cost of $6.38 billion that is directly caused by smoking, and another $5.73 billion in lost productivity. Despite all of this, the state only spends 13.5% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, but does have a tax of $2.60 per pack.