Health Leaders Urge Michigan Lawmakers to Raise Tobacco Age to 21 After Court Ruling Stops Implementation of Local Law in Genesee County

Joint Statement by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Trinity Health

Jun. 19 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C./LIVONIA, MICH. – We are very disappointed that a Michigan circuit court today prevented the implementation of Genesee County’s law prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. Such laws are life-saving and contribute to healthier individuals, families and communities. The court today halted implementation of the law until it can hold a full hearing on the issue. We urge the county to continue to push for its right to enact this law. It is also critical that the Michigan Legislature act quickly to pass a statewide law raising the tobacco age to 21.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Trinity Health, along with 16 other public health and medical groups, filed a “friend of the court” brief defending the county's law and will continue to support the county's interest in seeing this law implemented. We urge the state of Michigan to join the growing, nationwide movement to increase the tobacco age to prevent kids from using tobacco, save lives and make the next generation tobacco-free.

Background
To date, Tobacco 21 laws have been enacted by at least 245 localities, including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis, and both Kansas Cities. Ann Arbor was the first Michigan city to raise the tobacco age to 21 in August 2016.

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. We know that 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. Increasing the tobacco age 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. Tobacco 21 laws also help keep tobacco out of high schools, where younger teens often obtain tobacco products from older students.

A 2015 report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine (now called the National Academy of Medicine) concluded that increasing the tobacco age to 21 will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking, with immediate and long-term benefits for the nation’s health.

Tobacco use is the nation's leading preventable cause of death. It kills nearly half a million people and costs us about $170 billion in health care bills every year. In Michigan, tobacco’s annual toll is more than 16,000 deaths and over $4.5 billion in health care costs. Without effective action, 213,000 kids now younger than 18 in Michigan will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Increasing the tobacco age to 21 is a critical step in reducing and eventually eliminating tobacco’s terrible toll.

 

About Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.

About Trinity Health
Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 93 hospitals, as well as 120 continuing care programs that include PACE, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $16.3 billion and assets of $23.4 billion, the organization returns almost $1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 131,000 colleagues, including 5,300 employed physicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit www.trinity-health.org. You can also follow @TrinityHealthMI on Twitter.

 

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