ATLANTA — Three out of four American adults—including seven in 10 cigarette smokers—favor raising the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, according to an article by Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
While an overwhelming majority of adults favored the policy overall, favorability is slightly higher among adults who never smoked and older adults. In contrast, 11% of adults strongly opposed making 21 the legal age of sale, while 14% somewhat opposed such measures.
In most states, the minimum age of sale for tobacco is 18; in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah the minimum age of sale is 19. One state—Hawaii—currently prohibits sales of tobacco products to youth under the age of 21. Also, several cities and counties across the United States have adopted laws raising the minimum age to 21, starting with Needham, Mass., in 2005. New York City; Hawaii County, Hawaii; Evanston, Ill.; Englewood, N.J.; Columbia, Mo.; and several other communities in Massachusetts later followed suit.
“Raising the minimum age of sale to 21 could benefit the health of Americans in several ways,” said Brian King, acting deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking & Health. “It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit.”
Data for the study came from Styles, a nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The findings are consistent with those from a national survey conducted in 2013 and polls of voters in Colorado and Utah that found 57% and 67%, respectively, favor such policies. Favorability for the policies was found to increase with increasing age.