San Francisco Raises Tobacco Sale Age to 21

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Mar. 1 2016

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WASHINGTON, DC – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today has taken bold action to protect young people from tobacco addiction and save lives by prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. These actions make San Francisco the second largest city in the country, after New York, to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21.

We applaud San Francisco’s leaders for their commitment to fighting tobacco use, which is the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. They have acted to improve the city’s health for generations to come.

Increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 will reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults – age groups when nearly all smoking begins and that are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry. We know that 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, and tobacco companies spend billions of dollars annually to market their deadly and addictive products. Raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will help counter the industry’s efforts to target young people at a critical time when many move from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking. It will also help keep tobacco out of high schools, where younger teens often obtain tobacco products from older students.

A March 2015 report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine concluded that increasing the tobacco sale age would yield substantial public health benefits. The report found that increasing the sale age to 21 would significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking; reduce smoking-caused deaths; and immediately improve the health of adolescents, young adults and young mothers who would be deterred from smoking.

San Francisco’s actions continue the growing momentum in support of raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. To date, the state of Hawaii and over 125 cities and counties in nine states have raised the tobacco sale age to 21. This is a critical step to accelerate progress in the fight against tobacco and make the next generation tobacco-free.

 

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