Since 1976, the American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday in November as the Great American Smokeout and encourages smokers to quit using all tobacco products and begin living healthier lives. Tobacco use continues to be the most preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. New data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates 40% of cancers may be linked to tobacco use.
At Council for Drug Free Youth, we want to empower those under the age of 21to live healthy, vibrant lives and that is why we are actively working on raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21. More than 95% of long-term smokers say they began smoking before the age of 21. Most youth, on average, try cigarettes for the first time at the age of 12. Brains are still developing in adolescents and tobacco can impede that development.
In 2015, the Institute of Medicine estimated Tobacco 21 would reduce smoking among 15-17 year olds by 25%. Fewer smokers before 18 lead to fewer long-term smokers and that means healthier members of our community.
Studies show teens who don’t start smoking by the age of 21 will probably never smoke. Raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 can make a difference in preventing our youth from ever having to participate in the Great American Smokeout.