Tobacco 21 (T21), or raising the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products from 18 to 21, is a growing movement that more than 260 municipalities including Evanston, Maywood, Oak Park, and Berwyn, have joined. In addition, based on a recent survey, nearly 7 out of 10 residents in suburban Cook County support a proposed Tobacco 21 policy.
The teen age years are a critical time for tobacco prevention with 95% of smokers starting before the age of 21.2 The parts of the brain most responsible for decision making, impulse control, sensation seeking, and susceptibility to peer pressure continue to develop through young adulthood, making adolescent brains vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction.4
Benefits Of Raising The Age To Buy Tobacco To 21
- Tobacco 21 Reduces Teen Access To Tobacco Products. Raising the age makes it less likely that those who can legally purchase tobacco are within teenagers’ social circles and also keeps tobacco out of schools.
- Tobacco 21 Lowers Smoking Rates. The Institute of Medicine projects that Tobacco 21 policies could reduce overall smoking by 12% by the time today’s teenagers become adults. The biggest declines in tobacco use would be seen among 15-17 year old (25%) and 18-20 year olds (15%).5
- Tobacco 21 Improves Overall Health. In addition to reducing the number of adolescents and young adults with adverse physiological effects (e.g., increased inflammation and impaired immune functioning) caused by smoking, raising the minimum legal age will also lessen the population’s exposure to secondhand smoke and its associated health effects.66
Make Your Community A Healthy Hotspot
Has Your Community Adopted Tobacco 21?
- Share the benefits of Tobacco 21 with your community.
- Thank your local legislators.
- Share your support of Tobacco 21 on social media.
- Learn about other Healthy HotSpot initiatives to take on in your community.