PROVIDENCE – Today marks World No Tobacco Day, an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and the use of other tobacco products. It also marks another day during which the Rhode Island General Assembly is considering legislation which would increase the statewide legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Public health organizations and volunteer advocates are calling on lawmakers to move forward with this potentially lifesaving legislation.
Ryan Strik, Rhode Island’s lead volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), released the following statement:
“I have seen firsthand the toll that youth tobacco use can have, creating adults who are addicted to tobacco and more likely to suffer from related death and disease. World No Tobacco Day is the perfect opportunity for lawmakers to commit to reducing youth access to tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
“We know the tobacco industry uniquely targets young people to replace consumers dying from their products, and too many of Rhode Island’s children are becoming addicted before they even have a chance to grow up. But if kids don’t pick up a tobacco addiction during their vulnerable adolescent and teenage years, they’ll be less likely to do it when they’re 21. This legislation has the potential to reduce smoking rates in our state and ensure our kids live longer, healthier lives.
“Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death nationwide, and one-third of all cancer deaths are related to tobacco use. Raising the age of sale for tobacco products is a step toward saving lives, and restricting youth and young adult access to tobacco products can be a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce initiation and lifelong tobacco addiction.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) 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 www.fightcancer.org.