SALT LAKE CITY—Feb. 21, 2019—Cancer patients, survivors, and high school and college students from across Utah traveled to the state Capitol on Thursday, February 21 for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual Cancer Action Day at the Capitol. The group will urge lawmakers to protect Utah kids from a lifetime of tobacco addiction and vote no on House Bill 324, a flawed bill to raise the state’s tobacco sales age to 21.
"We applaud our state legislators for wanting to reduce tobacco use including e-cigarettes, but the proposed bill as drafted will not provide the intended public health benefits or policy results. We won’t be able to support it," said Brook Carlisle, government relations director for ACS CAN in Utah. "Unfortunately, House Bill 324 is the wrong solution to a major problem and we’re urging lawmakers to vote no."
ACS CAN opposes this tobacco 21 legislation because it penalizes youth for purchasing and possessing tobacco products rather than focusing on retailers who sell to those under age. The bill fails to remove existing preemption in state code. Many important public health policies are developed and passed at the local level - and preemption revokes local authority. States should set a minimum public health standard, but not prevent local governments from going above that minimum standard to benefit their communities. It would also phase in the age increase from 19 to 21 over a two-year period, rather than on one specific day.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and each year, about 800 Utah kids become new daily smokers. Additionally, 95 percent of all adult smokers begin before age 21 and ages 18-21 are a critical time when many people become daily smokers.
About ACS CAN
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.