Public Health Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT RAISING THE LEGAL AGE FOR PURCHASE AND USE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Public Health Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill raises the legal age to purchase tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21. It makes corresponding changes to the laws regarding the sale or giving of such products.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Raul Pino, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Health:
The Department of Public Health (DPH) supports raising the legal age for purchase and use of tobacco products because of its intended effect of reducing tobacco use by youth and reducing tobacco-related health expenditures. DPH recommends the passage of the bill, however, to be considered in the context of the state's budget and fiscal situation given that the law's enactment would result in significant revenue loss.
Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Commissioner, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) supports raising the age of legal use of tobacco to reduce the number of individuals impacted by the negative consequences of its use as well as the costs associated with tobacco-related health care, which are estimated to be no less than $2.3 billion dollars
Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey:
Submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating that raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 will save lives, reduce costs on tobacco-related healthcare and reduce the chances that young people will become regular smokers. These goals are supported by the following facts: smoking is the leading preventable cause of death; 75% of Americans and 70% of current smokers support raising the age of purchase to 21; and the adolescent brain is still developing up to age 25.
Representative Gary Byron:
Submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating that the bill is designed to prevent individuals from taking up smoking at an age when they are vulnerable and susceptible to peer pressure. Raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 will reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who smoke, which will subsequently reduce the amount of smoking related deaths in Connecticut.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Erin E. Jones, Regional Director Advocacy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes:
The March of Dimes submitted testimony in support of raising the legal age for purchase and use of tobacco products to improve the public health outcomes for women, children, and infants. Tobacco use during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and directly affects fetal growth.
Jane Z. Reardon, Pulmonary Clinical Nurse Specialist, American Lung Association:
Ms. Reardon submitted testimony using her experience as a nurse and treating patients suffering from tobacco-related illnesses as a reason to the support the bill that will prevent youth from becoming addicted to nicotine. According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine, raising the tobacco sale age to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 to 2019.
Connecticut Hospital Association:
The Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA), as a member of the Mobilize Against Tobacco for Connecticut's Health Coalition and a leader in promoting health, supporting increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 because by increasing the barriers to smoking, youth will find it more difficult to experience tobacco and use it daily.
Jim Williams, Government Relations Director, American Heart Association:
The American Heart Association (AHA) supports this bill because it will help build healthier lives for Connecticut's children. Increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 will reduce the rate of heart disease which is the number one cause of death in the US and in Connecticut. Currently, 13.2% of Connecticut High School students smoke and 2,100 children under the age of 18 become new daily smokers each year. Smoking can be attributed to 4,900 adult deaths in Connecticut and 56,000 children under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking. In addition to ending lives, smoking is also responsible for $2.3 billion in annual health care costs, $520.8 million of which is covered by Connecticut's Medicaid program.
Raising the legal sales age for tobacco up to 21 will result in decreased youth tobacco consumption along with a reduction in disease, death and health care costs.
Connecticut Public Health Association:
The Connecticut Public Health Association supports the bill to improve the health and well-being of the people of Connecticut. Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people annually, costing $170 billion in health care expenditures each year. Increase the sales age to 21 will help fight against the tobacco industry's efforts to target youth when many move from experimental use of tobacco to regular smoking.
Mary Moran Boudreau, Executive Director, Connecticut Oral Health Initiative:
The Connecticut Oral Health Initiative submitted testimony in support the bill, stating that raising the sales age for tobacco to 21 will significantly reduce the use of tobacco products and the health effects of tobacco addiction. In addition, tobacco use leads to many dental problems including: oral cancer; gum disease; tooth loss; loss of bone in the jaw; and tooth discoloration.
Donald Maleto, Executive Director, Connecticut Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs:
The Connecticut Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs supports the bill out of the belief that youth staying tobacco, alcohol and drug free is key to a healthy lifestyle in a time when tobacco is aggressively marketed to youth in a multitude of ways. Increasing the sales age of tobacco to 21 will prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer.
Bryte Johnson, Connecticut Director of Government Relations, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:
The American Cancer Society Action Network submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating that tobacco-related diseases remain the single most preventable cause of death in society, killing more people in Connecticut each year than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, accidents, murders and suicides combined. Increasing the tobacco sales age to 21 is a promising way to reduce death and suffering from tobacco-related illnesses when national statistics show that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.
To increase public awareness and enforcement of the new law, public education campaigns and technical assistance for retailers should be provided along with a commitment to completely monitor and evaluate the impact of the policy through a nonprofit or government entity with experience in evaluating tobacco control policies.
Kevin O'Flaherty, Regional Advocacy Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating that with nicotine as a highly addictive substance that youth are more susceptible to, raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will keep tobacco out of high schools, hurt the ability of tobacco companies to market to youth and help protect them from a lifetime of addiction.
Charles Brown, Director of Health of the Central Connecticut Health District:
Testimony submitted in support of the bill stated that increasing the sale age of tobacco to 21 will reduce youth smoking rates by 12%, smoking-related deaths by 10%, avoid 223,000 premature deaths and improve maternal and child health.
Nancy Alderman, President, Environment and Human Health , Inc.:
Submitted testimony in support of the bill but stated that e-cigarettes should be regulated in Connecticut like regular cigarettes in order to protect the public's health.
The following individuals support HB 5384 and its intention to raise the legal tobacco sale age to 21 as a means to reduce disease, death and health care costs:
Dr. Ronald Kimmel, Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, St. Francis Healthcare Partners
Dr. Paul Dworkin, Executive Vice President, Community Child Health, Connecticut Children's Medical Center
Roberta R. Friedman
Patricia J. Checko
Geralyn Laut, Certified Prevention Professional and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Andres J. Feijoo