Washington, D.C., May 20, 2019 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today in response to the introduction of legislation by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to increase the sales age for tobacco products to 21 nationwide:
“We commend Majority Leader McConnell and Sen. Kaine for prioritizing the health of teens and young adults with a bill to raise the national sales age for tobacco products to 21. We urge strong bipartisan support for this bill as written, and we call on lawmakers to reject any effort to add language that would weaken its impact or benefit tobacco companies.
“Raising the sales age for tobacco nationwide is one of several policy changes that are essential to reach the tobacco endgame of eliminating tobacco use and nicotine addiction. Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers start the habit before age 18, and most 15- to 17-year-olds get their tobacco from friends who have turned 18. Raising the sales age to 21 will help remove tobacco from high schools altogether.
“Sens. McConnell and Kaine have joined the sponsors of the Tobacco to 21 Act -- Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Todd Young (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) – in taking a bold step to prevent disease and death from tobacco. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have already raised the tobacco sales age to 21. We hope Congress and the White House act immediately to turn this effective policy into law nationwide.
“Some of the tobacco industry’s largest companies have supported tobacco 21 policies at the federal and state levels, either to score a public relations win or weaken efforts to pass more restrictive policies. Make no mistake – the tobacco industry continues to target youth and adolescents with marketing gimmicks and flavorings that are intended to addict a new generation of users. We continue to call on the FDA to exercise its full authority and urgently implement strict regulations over the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products, and to eliminate flavors in all tobacco products.”
For media inquiries please contact: