Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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DeGette Introduces Legislation to Raise Smoking Age to 21

Nov 8, 2017
Press Release
Raising Smoking Age to 21 Would Lead to 4.2 Million Fewer Years of Life Lost

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) has introduced the Tobacco to 21 Act (H.R.4273), bicameral legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age 21.

“Smoking is a deadly, addictive habit that can harm human health even in limited amounts,” DeGette said. “It is especially hazardous to developing bodies. Why on earth would we wish to expose our young people to its dangers? As federal legislators, it is our moral obligation to ensure that the law does not favor the tobacco industry over the health and safety of our nation’s youth. This bill would go a long way to keeping carcinogens out of young people’s hands – and throats, and lungs.”

Every day, approximately 1,300 people die from smoking-related diseases, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.  Laws can play an important role in preventing these deaths. Research from the National Academy of Medicine shows that raising the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.  Currently, ninety-five percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.

DeGette’s legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), John Garamendi (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). Its companion legislation in the Senate (S.2100) is sponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), and cosponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D- HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Al Franken (D-MN).

The Tobacco to 21 Act is supported by the Academic Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Pediatric Society, the American Public Health Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the First Focus Campaign for Children, HMSA – Blue Cross Blue Shield Hawai‘i, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the Pediatric Policy Council, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Society for Public Health Education, the Trust for America’s Health, the University of Hawai‘i Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine, the University of Hawai‘i Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work/Department of Social Work, and the University of Hawai‘i Office of Public Health Studies.

For a summary of the Tobacco to 21 Act, click here.