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Pennsylvania may raise tobacco sales age to 21. Science says that could slash smoking rates.

July 30, 2019

The Philadelphia Inquirer,

Aneri Pattani,

July 30, 2019-

Raising the legal age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 significantly decreases smoking among young adults, two new studies from the Yale University School of Public Health suggest. Pennsylvania lawmakers are expected to discuss the issue when the legislature reconvenes in September. Bills to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 — often called tobacco-21 laws — were introduced in the House and Senate last session, but have yet to make it to the floor for voting.

If they pass, Pennsylvania will join 17 states in requiring people to be 21 to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products. Delaware recently made that move. New Jersey’s law has been in effect since 2017. Public health experts say such laws are crucial, given that nine out of 10 smokers start by age 18, and 99 percent start by age 26. The two recent studies found that states and localities that have tobacco-21 laws have lower rates of smoking among young adults than areas with a lower minimum age. “Not only do these laws seem to work, but they’re influencing the kids most at risk,” said Abigail Friedman, a coauthor on both studies and assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health.

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