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Age limit for cigarettes is not arbitrary — it’s a lifesaver

“Smoking is unhealthy” might be Jeff Jacoby’s only understatement in an opinion piece full of hyperbole (“Cigarettes are hazardous, but some lawmakers are worse”).

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the state, with 9,300 people in Massachusetts losing their lives to tobacco this year alone.

Raising the age of sale to 21 is not arbitrary; on the contrary, it is science-based and aimed at protecting our youth. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that raising the age of purchase to 21 would save the lives of 12 percent of teenagers across the United States today.

It is worth noting that Jacoby uses the word “addicted” only once in his column, and he uses it to describe lawmakers’ repeated efforts to protect public health. Tobacco use is a real and serious addiction that costs thousands of lives every year. Neglecting to mention the role of addiction in a piece about cigarettes only serves to paint half a picture.

The bill pending in the Legislature is about using an important tool to limit the deadly impact of tobacco, save lives, and protect public health for generations to come, and we proudly support it.

Jeff Seyler

President and CEO

American Lung Association of the Northeast

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