Some lawmakers have ignited a push to raise the smoking age to 21.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal joined senators from Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio and other states to introduce the Tobacco to 21 Act.
“Raising the minimum age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21 is a simple step that would save thousands of lives and millions of dollars by snuffing out smoking before it starts,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
Blumenthal argued that the law would protect vulnerable young people from the addictive effects of nicotine and devastating health problems from tobacco.
“By shielding those under the age of 21 from tobacco, we will improve overall public health, decrease the number of smokers, and increase the health and well-being of young people in Connecticut and around the country,” he said.
Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said that the earlier smokers begin their unhealthy addiction to nicotine, the more likely they are to suffer from tobacco-related diseases and die.
“This year, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the minimum smoking age to 21,” Schatz said. “It was a historic public health achievement that we should adopt nationwide.”
The senators said that in the last 50 years, nearly 21 million people in the U.S. died due to tobacco-related illnesses. That made it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.
They cited a reported from the Institute of Medicine which found that raising the legal age of tobacco purchasing to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.
The bill has the support of a number of groups, including the American Lung Association.
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