Advocates In Broward Seek To Raise Age Limit For Tobacco Sales

By Bob LaMendola – Florida Department of Health in Broward

BROWARD COUNTY – Anti-tobacco advocates in Broward County will ask local elected officials in the coming year to consider raising the legal age to buy tobacco products, to 21, as a way to prevent youths from starting the habit.

The Tobacco-Free Partnership of Broward chose as its top priority for 2017 a project to ask elected commissioners from Broward County and its cities about raising the legal age for tobacco sales, which now is 18.

More than 80 percent of smokers start before age 18, many with help from friends who can buy tobacco legally. Researchers at the Institute of Medicine have estimated that raising the legal age to 21 would reduce under-21 smoking by 12 percent.

California and Hawaii and more than 200 U.S. cities and counties (none in Florida) have raised the legal age to 21, and four states have raised it to 19.

“Raising the age would help keep tobacco out of the schools,” says Imani Richardson, a Health Educator at the Florida Department of Health in Broward, which organizes the Tobacco Free Partnership.

The American Lung Association in Broward has started working on presentations. In addition, the Partnership is enlisting the help of teen volunteers in the 20 Broward chapters of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT).

Teenager buying Tobacco

The Partnership board will tackle other projects this year:

* Encouraging more employers to ban smoking on their property and to offer free quit-smoking services to employees.

* Holding an anti-tobacco event at a Florida Panthers game.

* Participating in Relay for Life walk/run events with the American Cancer Society.

* Expanding its Youth Essay Contest to be more often than once a year.


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