You might know how hard it is to stop smoking – imagine if you never started. State and city governments, organizations and companies are working to make this a reality. Enacting policies to help future generations remain smokefree and designing policies to inspire and motivate current smokers to find the assistance they need to quit are two of the many possible ways to help create a smokefree future.
Read on to learn about 2 tobacco control policies that are helping people quit – or never start – smoking.
Raising the Age of Sale for Tobacco to 21
How many people do you know smoked their first cig when they were younger than 18 (maybe you too!)? Did you know that nearly nine out of 10 tobacco users first try cigarettes before age 18? It’s sometimes a result of 18- and 19-year-old high school students purchasing cigarettes and passing them along to their younger peers. State-specific campaigns such as Tobacco 21 advocate raising the age of sale for cigarettes to 21 years old. This move has been shown to help reduce cigarette access for high schoolers. Whether the age in your area to buy cigarettes is 18 or 21, be sure to talk to younger people in your life about the risks and dangers of smoking. You can set a good example for them by trying to quit if you have not done so already.
Here’s some other good things to know about raising the minimum sales age for tobacco products:
- Adolescents who smoke are especially vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction, causing lasting, adverse consequences on brain development.
- 2015 estimates show that raising the minimum age to 21 could lower the current initial smoking rate (the number of people who start smoking) to 25% among 15-17 year olds, and 15% among 18-20 year olds. If Tobacco 21 is adopted nationwide, it could prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths and limit teen access to cigarettes.
- As of September 2017, five states (California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon) and Washington, DC have passed laws changing the tobacco sales age to 21. Over 200 cities and communities have also passed laws to raise the age to 21.
Increasing Tobacco Taxes
One common reason for quitting smoking is to save money – at a national average of $6.28 per pack, cigarettes aren’t cheap. Wanting to save money may be one of your reasons to quit. After all, if you’re a pack-a-day smoker, not buying cigarettes could help you save over $2200 in a year! So, it may come as no surprise that raising tobacco taxes has proven to be one of the most effective ways to decrease tobacco use in the U.S. Tobacco taxes, which are imposed by each state, can also give people incentives to quit. Increased cigarette prices may cause smokers to make an attempt to quit, and are also effective at preventing smoking among kids. If you have not yet quit, let the prospect of saving motivate you to stop buying cigarettes! Keep in mind the following:
- Tobacco taxes have been shown to keep kids from starting to smoke and to help adults to quit.
- Every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces tobacco use by about 4 percent among adults and about 7 percent among youth.
- Tobacco taxes often are used to fund health and tobacco cessation programs.
- When it comes to tobacco taxes, see how your state stacks up.
Join us in creating a smokefree community. Taking steps to become smokefree by seeing a healthcare provider for help quitting smoking, helping rid the environment of cigarette butts, and encouraging those around you to do the same, helps move us closer to a smokefree America. A smokefree future can start with you!