‘Tobacco 21’ on the Rise

Movement to raise legal age for tobacco purchases hits new city, county milestone

WASHINGTON -- When Liberty, Mo., approved to raise the legal-purchasing age for tobacco products recently, the “Tobacco 21” movement hit a milestone, with Liberty becoming one of at least 200 cities and counties across the United States to enact laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21.

“The Tobacco 21 movement is a [campaign] to reduce tobacco use and help make the next generation tobacco-free,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington, D.C.

In addition to the 200 cities and counties in 14 states, California and Hawaii have enacted statewide laws raising the tobacco age to 21. Major cities that have done so include New York City, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland and both Kansas City in Missouri and Kansas. Statewide legislation is under consideration in several other states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, as well as in Washington, D.C., Myers said.

“Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults—age groups when nearly all tobacco use begins and that are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry,” Myers said.

Nationally, about 95% of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, the organization said.

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