One of the top Republicans in the Florida Legislature wants to raise the age to buy tobacco products in the Sunshine State.
Last week, Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. David Simmons, R-Longwood, filed the bill as “part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent tobacco addiction.” The bill “would raise the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 with strong retailer licensing, clear definitions of tobacco products and clear protocol to enable active enforcement.”
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) threw its support behind the proposal.
“Ninety-five percent of adults who smoke began smoking before the age of 21. The tobacco industry spends roughly $614 million a year to market their deadly and addictive products in Florida often reaching impressionable youth,” ACS CAN noted. “Increasing the age for sale of tobacco products to 21 will protect youth at a critical age when many transition from experimenting with tobacco to becoming addicted. When coupled with other proven policies including regular and significant tax increases on all tobacco products, smoke-free and tobacco-free laws and significant funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, raising the age of sale to 21 promises to be a key component of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy that reduces initiation and lifelong tobacco addiction.”
“Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death nationwide,” said ACS CAN Senior Government Relations Director Heather Youmans. “With Florida ranked as the second leading state for new cancer diagnoses, our state continues to fall short on tobacco control. It’s time for the Florida Legislature to do its part to prevent lifelong addiction by rejecting the interests of Big Tobacco and raising the age of sale to 21 for all tobacco products including e-cigarettes.
“In addition to Big Tobacco’s intentional marketing, today’s resurgence of youth tobacco use is a result of easy access,” continued Youmans. “If passed by the Florida Legislature, SB 810 will reduce youth access to all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and cigars and protect the health of all of Florida’s young people including members of the military and first responders.
“In Florida, 270,000 kids currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking,” concluded Youmans. “Protecting our children from the harmful effects of tobacco requires enacting evidence-based solutions and strong policies that are proven to reduce tobacco use. The introduction of this bill is a promising first step.”