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Minimum Legal Age Position Statement

Interact for Health believes that raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to age 21 is an effective strategy to reduce tobacco use among youth.

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and the Greater Cincinnati region.1  Smoking costs the United States more than $300 billion per year between direct medical costs and lost productivity.1,2  Reducing tobacco use is the single most important strategy that would improve health outcomes in our region.  According to the 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS), 23% of adults in our region are current smokers with significant disparities existing between income levels.3 Preventing initiation of tobacco use and the transition to every day smoking is a critical component of reducing future tobacco-related death and disease.  Nearly 9 in 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18.4

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking (particularly among ages 15-17), reduce smoking-caused deaths and immediately improve the health of adolescents, young adults and young mothers who would be deterred from smoking, as well as their children.5  The IOM projected that if the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products was increased to 21 nationwide, there would be 223,000 fewer premature deaths and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost for those born between 2000 and 2019.5

Therefore, Interact for Health believes that raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to age 21 is an effective strategy to reduce tobacco use among youth.

Policy adopted on Feb. 22, 2018


1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General, Atlanta, GA: HHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-ofprogress/index.html.

2 Xu X, Bishop EE, Kennedy SM, Simpson SA, Pechacek TF. Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking: An Update American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014;48(3):326–333 [accessed 2018 Feb 15].

3 Interact for Health. (2017). Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey. Cincinnati, OH.

4 Office on Smoking and Health (U.S.). (2006). The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bNBK44324/.

5 IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2015. Public health implications of raising the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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