Kids to share 21 reasons for supporting Tobacco 21 in CT

Students from around Connecticut participate in a press conference at the State Capitol showing support of raising the tobacco sale age to 21.

Today, students of all ages came to the Connecticut Legislative Building to meet with legislators and share reasons for supporting ‘Tobacco 21’- raising the sale age of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 in Connecticut. The event was held in conjunction with lobby days for both the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the American Heart Association. Advocates from across the state came to speak to their lawmakers about making cancer, heart disease and stroke legislative priorities.

During a press conference and in individual meetings, the students educated legislators on why it is important to them to raise the state’s tobacco sale age to 21 and about the need to reduce the number of teens taking up smoking and using other tobacco products. As a group they provided 21 reasons why ‘Tobacco 21’ matters to them and makes sense for the state. The youth are part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Connecticut as well as other youth groups focused on health issues from across the state.

The students participating were from the following towns: Berlin, Bristol, Hartford, Newington, Norwalk, Plymouth, Southington, Wallingford, Wolcott.

Research shows 95% of smokers started before the age of 21.

Every year in Connecticut, nearly 1,300 kids under age 18 will become new daily smokers, and 56,000 kids in the state under the age of 18 now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Currently, 10.3% of high school students smoke and 7.2% of high school students use e-cigarettes.

Southington resident, Leigh Pechillo talks to Sen. Joe Markley about why raising the  sale age of tobacco products to 21 will save lives of children in Connecticut.

“Here in Connecticut, 4,900 deaths are caused by smoking each year, and another 450 people die from second hand smoke – and this is simply unacceptable”, said Bryte Johnson, director of government relations for ACS CAN in Connecticut. “We know that an increase in the legal sale age of tobacco can be a critical component of a comprehensive approach tobacco control, and thus a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.”

“Studies show that if a youth reaches the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to two per cent. The lifesaving potential of this legislation is massive,” said Jim Williams, Government Relations Director for the American Heart/American Stroke Association. “We know that kids gain access to tobacco products from older kids—siblings, friends at school. So, raising the age will help eliminate tobacco from younger kids’ social circles.”

Youth from the Boys and Girls Club from around Connecticut raise their voice to raise the sale age of  cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.

Most teens who smoke and use tobacco report getting cigarettes and other products from their friends; 90% of those who provide cigarettes to younger teens are under the age of 21. Eighty percent of youth smokers will become adult smokers and one-half of adult smokers will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

Five states (New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, California and Hawaii), along with more than 290 localities (including more than 60% of the populations of New York and 70% of the population of Massachusetts) have raised their tobacco sales to 21.