Tobacco 21 signed into law!
On December 20, congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that included raising the national age for purchasing any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, from 18 to 21. The president signed the bill making it a federal law. It will go into effect later in 2020. We will continue to update this page with developments regarding the enforcement of this new protection. (12/20/2019)
Additional protections against youth tobacco use were made state law on May 20, when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation raising Oklahoma’s tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21, effective immediately. The state law aligns Oklahoma with the federal regulation passed in December 2019. (5/20/2020)
A small step up. A huge step forward.
For decades, the tobacco industry has conspired to addict young adults. That’s because they know their victims better than they know themselves. Young adults are still developing the brain structures that control:
- Peer susceptibility and conformity
In the final, crucial stages of development, young minds are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine. Big Tobacco’s business model is built on exploiting this risk. They spend over $172 million a year marketing to kids in Oklahoma. On top of this, younger kids are accessing tobacco from older peers. 90% of those who supply cigarettes to minors are 18-20 years old. All of these factors help explain why 95% of smokers start before age 21.
Young-adult smoking continues to grow in Oklahoma, but legislative remedies hold the key for change.
Raising the legal minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette devices from 18 to 21 is vital to protecting youth.
According to a 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine, if Tobacco 21 was passed now in the U.S., it could:
- Prevent 223,000 premature deaths
- Prevent 50,000 deaths from lung cancer
- Reduce smoking prevalence by an additional 12%
Proof It Works
19 states and at least 530+ cities and counties have already raised the smoking age from 18 to 21… and they’re seeing the benefits. Visit Tobacco21.org to see a map of people currently protected by Tobacco 21 across the country.
In 2005, Needham, Massachusetts, became the first town to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. Five years later, high school smoking dropped by half. Experts attribute this decrease to the loss of social sources high schoolers used to acquire tobacco. Raising the age to 21 cuts off a major pipeline for underage access.
As of December 20, 2019, congress passed a spending bill containing a provision raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, from 18 to 21. This enforcement will become federal law and begin later in 2020.
74% of Oklahomans favor raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21.
Protecting 18-year-olds from Big Tobacco is crucial to the future of our youth. An overwhelming majority of Oklahomans already support the Tobacco 21 tobacco control policy. Now, it’s time to take action.