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360° Perspective: Tobacco 21

Posted: 9:57 PM, Apr 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-12 00:49:02-04

We’re taking a closer look at a push for stronger tobacco laws in this 360° Perspective.

This week Illinois became the latest state in the nation to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21-years-old as part of an initiative known as Tobacco 21 . In Illinois, it goes into effect July first.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Illinois joins California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia and also D.C. The state of Washington and Utah also putting laws into effect.

In other states, dozens of cities have passed similar ordinances, including in Colorado.

Here are some fast facts  from the CDC on tobacco and nicotine use:

  • 90 percent of all tobacco users start before they turn 18.
  • Each day about 2,000 young people smoke their first cigarette.
  • As of 2017, about 34 million adults smoked.
  • Tobacco kills more than 480,000 people each year. That is more than car crashes, gun violence, and opioid overdoses combined.
  • The CDC says it’s the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the U.S.

The CDC says tobacco companies are developing new products like flavored e-cigarettes faster than they can be regulated, increasing youth tobacco use.

In Colorado teen vaping is considered an epidemic. El Paso County declared it a public health crisis earlier this year after data showed 27 percent of Colorado kids are using e-cigarettes, more than two times the national average.

Recently Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 10-33 into law. It gives local governments the power to pass strong tobacco control laws, allowing them to have stronger laws than the state. They can enact ordinances raising the age of sale to 21 and regulate tobacco products and license retailers. It also allows them to take special taxes on tobacco and nicotine products to voters. This bill removes a decades-old clause in state law that gave financial penalties to communities who enacted laws that differed from state law.

The American Cancer Society says regular and significant tax increases are shown to reduce tobacco use.

So far, several cities in Colorado already voted to raise the purchasing age to 21, including Edgewater, Aspen, Avon, Basalt and Carbondale. We’ll let you know if others get added to that list.

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