Majority of Americans Support Increasing Legal Age to Buy Tobacco

A new national survey finds a majority of Americans favor raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco. The survey found more support for increasing the age to 21, rather than 19 or 20.

Support “seems to cross political lines, and it is one policy measure that the majority of those surveyed can agree on,” said lead researcher Dr. Adam Goldstein of the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The survey included more than 4,800 adults, HealthDay reports. A majority of people in all regions of the nation favored the idea of raising the legal age to purchase tobacco. About 73 percent of people in a four-state region in the South that included Texas and Louisiana favored the proposal, as did 59 percent of people in a seven-state Midwestern region that included Iowa and Kansas.

In the South Atlantic region, which included North Carolina, seven other states and the District of Columbia, support was about 68 percent.

Women, non-whites, Hispanics, non-smokers and those over 21 were more likely to support raising the minimum tobacco purchasing age.

“With these findings, policy makers and public health advocates can move forward knowing that people in their states support raising the minimum legal age for selling tobacco products, and that this is an issue that is not viewed as partisan,” Goldstein said in a news release.

According to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, 143 municipalities in 10 states, and the entire states of Hawaii and California, have raised the minimum tobacco purchasing age to 21.

Last year the Institute of Medicine published a report that concluded if every state were to immediately ban tobacco sales to those under 21, the smoking rate would fall 12 percent. The decrease would prevent 249,000 premature deaths among the generation born between 2000 and 2019, the report stated.

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