D.C.'s McDuffie Introducing Bill to Raise Tobacco-Buying Age to 21

Cites actions of New York City, Needham, Mass.

Kenyan McDuffie

Kenyan McDuffie

WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D) has announced that he will introduce a bill in the D.C. Council increasing the minimum age to purchase and possess tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill would likewise prohibit retailers from selling tobacco products to persons under the age of 21. The bill will be introduced at Tuesday's legislative meeting of the full council.

The city went smoke-free in 2006, ensuring that indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars, are smoke-free environments. Last month the council passed a bill prohibiting smoking in the district's parks and bus shelters.

"Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 will decrease access to cigarettes, and, more importantly, may decrease the rate of smoking in young adults," said McDuffie. "This bill represents a long-term investment in public health."

Last week, New York City adopted the measure, citing, in part, the action of Needham, Mass., which raised its smoking age to 21 seven years ago.

The rate of self-reported tobacco use by high school students in Needham declined significantly since the law was passed, according to McDuffie.

"We have an obligation to stay on the leading edge of smoking prevention strategies here in the district. … Research shows that delaying access to tobacco products is an effective means of long-term smoking prevention," said McDuffie.