In Response to the NH State Budget setting the Tobacco Sales Age at 19 years

September 25, 2019

CONCORD, NH (September 25, 2019) - The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are deeply disappointed by the action of NH lawmakers and Governor Sununu in coming to an agreement on a state budget that raises the age for tobacco sales only to 19 years. Both organizations, advocate for evidence-based policies, such as raising the legal age from 18 to 21 for the sales of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minimize youth and adolescent initiation. Setting the tobacco sale age to 21 is an evidence-based strategy put forward by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine IOM) in 2015. According to their review, raising the legal age to 21 helps reduce young people’s access to tobacco when they are more likely to become addicted and when their brains are still developing. Because high school students normally graduate before the age of 21, raising the tobacco retail sales age to 21 would limit teens social sources for tobacco, essentially removing tobacco from high school circles. There is no evidence that raising the age to 19 would get tobacco products out of high schools. A sale age of 21 also helps prevent 18-20 year olds from establishing regular tobacco use habits as an adult. 

E-cigarette use by NH youth has reached crisis proportions, 23.8% of high schoolers use vape products. Lawmakers supporting public health need to take bold action and pass evidence-based policy solutions, including setting the tobacco sales age at 21 years. Setting the age for tobacco sales at 19 years does not go far enough in supporting public health, reducing youth initiation, nor removing these products from our schools.

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Amber Herting
Director, Region Media Advocacy