More cities increasing legal age to purchase tobacco products

Cincinnati becomes 16th in Ohio to move to age 21
Posted at 9:42 AM, Dec 13, 2018

In most states, it is illegal to sell or give tobacco products to someone who is 18 years old or younger.

But many are increasing the legal age to 21 years old.

Cincinnati, Ohio just became the 16th city in that state to do so.The state's minimum age is 18. (There is no minimum age at which someone in Ohio may legally use tobacco products.)

Minimum ages for purchasing tobacco have been set at the state level dating all the way back to the late 1800s.

Increasing the legal age is an effort to reduce habitual smoking among young people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saysmost long-term tobacco use begins when a smoker is an adolescent, and nearly 90 percent of smokers have their first cigarette by age 18.

In Ohio, the new age minimum also includes e-cigarettes: Businesses may not sell vape pens to anyone younger than 21.

Although e-cigarettes have been hailed by some as a tool to help adults stop smoking, the existence of fruit- and mint-flavored nicotine pods like those sold by Juul sparked widespread fears that such devices would lead to an upswing in nicotine use among teenagers.

CDC data gives some credence to that worry: In a study, about 20 percent of high school students reported having recently used e-cigarettes. Rates of e-cigarette use among high school students in 2017 were notably higher than the use of other tobacco products.

The American Cancer Society and American Heart Association say they applaud Cincinnati's decision to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products. Both organizations had partnered with the Cincinnati Health Department, Cradle Cincinnati, Hamilton County Public Health and others to push for Cincinnati to join the growing number of “Tobacco 21” cities across the country.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, according to tobaccofreekids.org, and 480,000 people are killed because of tobacco every year.