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McDuffie to Introduce Bill Increasing the Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco Products to 21

For Immediate Release: Monday, November 4, 2013
Contact: Stephanie Liotta-Atkinson, 202-297-0152, satkinson@dccouncil.us

McDuffie to Introduce Bill Increasing the Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco Products to 21

Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) announced that he will introduce a bill in the D.C. Council increasing the minimum age to purchase and possess tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill would likewise prohibit retailers from selling tobacco products to persons under the age of 21.

The District has been at the forefront of tobacco-related reforms. The city went smoke-free in 2006, ensuring that indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars, are smoke-free environments. Just last month the Council passed a bill prohibiting smoking in the District’s parks and bus shelters.

“Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 will decrease access to cigarettes, and, more importantly, may decrease the rate of smoking in young adults,” stated McDuffie.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 99% of smokers start before the age of 26. Studies have found that delayed initiation to tobacco products may significantly reduce the rate of smoking later in life. “This bill represents a long-term investment in public health,” stated McDuffie.

Two other jurisdictions have similarly approached smoking prevention by increasing the smoking age to 21. Last week New York City adopted the measure, citing, in part, the success of Needham, Massachusetts, which raised its smoking age to 21 seven years ago. The rate of self-reported tobacco use by high school students in Needham declined significantly since the law was passed.

“We have an obligation to stay on the leading edge of smoking prevention strategies here in the District. By restricting tobacco sales to young people, we can prevent many of our youth from acquiring a terrible, deadly addiction. Research shows that delaying access to tobacco products is an effective means of long-term smoking prevention,” said McDuffie.

The bill will be introduced at Tuesday’s legislative meeting of the full Council.

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For more information, please visit www.kenyanmcduffie.com or contact our office at (202) 724-8028. Follow Councilmember McDuffie at twitter.com/CM_McDuffie and on facebook.com/KenyanRMcDuffie