American Heart Association Praises New IOM Report on Raising the Age for Tobacco Sales

March 12, 2015 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., March 12, 2015 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the Institute of Medicine’s new report, “Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products,” released today:

“This thought-provoking IOM report reinforces what we’ve known all along – age matters when it comes to tobacco prevention. If we raise the age of sale for tobacco products, we can perhaps stop a young person from indulging in that first puff, and hopefully keep them tobacco-free for their entire lifetime. 

As this report points out, the Food and Drug Administration does not have the authority to raise the minimum age of sale above 18. State and local governments instead have that power and would play a critical part in implementing any increase in the current minimum age. We hope officials at those levels consider this new evidence, as well as take action on other highly effective ways to reduce tobacco use by youth. If states can use this weapon in conjunction with other proven strategies such as raising tobacco taxes, funding tobacco prevention programs and passing smoke-free laws, we can save thousands of more young lives, and hopefully end the tobacco epidemic in our nation. 

Right now, 90 percent of tobacco users take up this dangerous habit before the age of 18, and almost no one starts after the age of 25. While cigarette smoking among adolescents is at its lowest rate since the mid-1970s, there has been a corresponding increase in their use of e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. The popularity of these products is at least due in part to the fact that they can be legally sold to minors in many states. To address this, we strongly urge the FDA to apply the current minimum age of 18 to all tobacco products.

The association commends the IOM for providing compelling evidence in support of changing the minimum age. Moving forward, we welcome even more research on this issue to help us finally make our nation 100 percent tobacco-free.” 

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For media inquiries, please contact Retha Sherrod at (202) 785-7929 or retha.sherrod@heart.org.