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Berkeley Raises Smoking Age to 21

On January 26th, The City Council of Berkeley voted to raise the smoking age to 21, following in the footsteps of more than 110 municipalities across the nation, including New York City and Boston.

“Berkeley continues to emerge as a public health leader. They recognized that the smoking age should be the same as the drinking age,” said Brittni Chicuata, American Heart Association, Greater Bay Area Advocacy Director. “Studies have shown that over 90% of smokers begin before the age of 21. We support Policies that limit access to tobacco products for youth.”

Recent studies show that raising the smoking age is an effective policy. A recent study of the first city to raise the age of purchase of tobacco products, Needham, MA, in the Journal Tobacco Control showed a significant reduction in tobacco use by Needham high school students. Additionally, an Institute of Medicine report released last year examined raising the age of purchase of tobacco products to 21. The IOM estimates 25% decline in smoking initiation among 15-17 years olds as well as a 12% reduction in smoking prevalence in the long term.

“This action will help remove tobacco from high schools, leading to a healthier future for Berkeley’s youth,” said Henry Philofsky, Western Region Director of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.

“Raising the legal age for the sale of tobacco product to 21 will better protect the Berkeley adolescents from continued efforts of the tobacco industry to hook them on a deadly addiction,” said Beverly May, Regional Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Raising the smoking age to 21 is also popular. A national study of public support by the Center for Disease Control found 75% of Americans support the policy.

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