Florida Senator Takes Important Step Toward Reducing Tobacco Use

Introduces Bill to Raise the Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21

November 8, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, FL – November 8, 2019 – Earlier this week, Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. David Simmons filed SB 810 in the Florida Legislature. Part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent tobacco addiction, the introduced legislation would raise the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 with strong retailer licensing, clear definitions of tobacco products and clear protocol to enable active enforcement.
“Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death nationwide,” noted American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Senior Government Relations Director Heather Youmans. “With Florida ranked as the second leading state for new cancer diagnoses, our state continues to fall short on tobacco control. It’s time for the Florida Legislature to do its part to prevent lifelong addiction by rejecting the interests of Big Tobacco and raising the age of sale to 21 for all tobacco products including e-cigarettes.”
Ninety-five percent of adults who smoke began smoking before the age of 21. The tobacco industry spends roughly $614 million a year to market their deadly and addictive products in Florida often reaching impressionable youth.
Increasing the age for sale of tobacco products to 21 will protect youth at a critical age when many transition from experimenting with tobacco to becoming addicted. When coupled with other proven policies including regular and significant tax increases on all tobacco products, smoke-free and tobacco-free laws and significant funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, raising the age of sale to 21 promises to be a key component of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy that reduces initiation and lifelong tobacco addiction.
“In addition to Big Tobacco’s intentional marketing, today’s resurgence of youth tobacco use is a result of easy access,” added Youmans. “If passed by the Florida Legislature, SB 810 will reduce youth access to all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and cigars and protect the health of all of Florida’s young people including members of the military and first responders.”
Approximately 38% of current military members who smoke initiated tobacco use after enlisting in military service.
“Our service members deserve the same protections as non-service members,” shared Youmans. “When they return home from serving overseas, we should serve them by protecting them from the deadly effects of tobacco use and support them living a tobacco-free lifestyle.”
To date, 18 states, the District of Columbia and at least 480 localities have already passed laws to raise the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21.
“In Florida, 270,000 kids currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking,” concluded Youmans. “Protecting our children from the harmful effects of tobacco requires enacting evidence-based solutions and strong policies that are proven to reduce tobacco use. The introduction of this bill is a promising first step.”
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit
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