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Letters: Tobacco restrictions

July 08, 2019

I was pleased to read Jennifer Garvin’s article in the June 3 ADA News “Association Supports Legislation Calling for Raising Legal Age to 21 to Purchase Tobacco.” Ninety-five percent of smokers begin their tobacco and nicotine addiction well before the age of 21, and between getting these products from their legal-age peers, and being heavily targeted by the tobacco industry, the road to an early nicotine addiction has been smooth and easy. The legislation proposed by Sen. Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell would raise the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco and e-cigarettes, which would help prevent easy access. Unfortunately, there are significant flaws to this legislation via amendments, which need to be addressed before the ADA gives its blessings. Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, states, “It is critical that Congress enact strong Tobacco 21 legislation that is free of special interest provisions that benefit the industry.”

My concern is that there are certain provisions that certain people and groups are seeking to include in state proposals that treat the industry more favorably on other issues. Some of these would prevent local governments from banning flavors or otherwise regulating e-cigarettes and tobacco products. In addition, some other amendments would make enforcement difficult, or penalize youths for buying them.

They would also not hold stores responsible for selling the products to those under the age limit. There also would be measures to prevent local governments from banning flavors or otherwise regulate e-cigarettes and tobacco products.

Congress should pass, at a minimum, a free-standing bill that would raise the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco and nicotine products. Even more beneficial would be a law that would speed up the putting graphic labels on cigarette packs, give states the right to ban flavors, and regulate e-cigarettes and tobacco products, and hold those selling these products to those under 21 liable.

Nevin Zablotsky, D.M.D.
South Hero, Vermont

Editor’s note: The ADA gives priority to advancing public policies that align with our ADA policy, including preventing tobacco use by setting age restrictions for purchasers of traditional and nontraditional tobacco products. There have been ongoing conversations regarding the best way to curb our youth tobacco epidemic. It is important to note that Tobacco-Free Kids now supports the bipartisan compromise to raise the tobacco age to 21 nationwide. The ADA also supports H.R. 2339, the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, which Tobacco-Free Kids also supports.