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Anti-Smoking Advocates Worried Tobacco 21 Act isn’t Gaining Traction

January 30th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

3% of Florida’s children are smoking before they turn out 18. Florida lawmakers say raising the age to 21 will make it harder for kids to access tobacco, but they’ve been unsuccessful at moving the proposal.

 

 

10 students gathered in the State Capitol, holding signs with real life examples of how smoking has affected people.

Dee Ann Smith started smoking when she was 17, but is now 17 years cigarette free.

 

“I’ve had cancer. I have asthma. I see a cardiologist and a lipidologist regularly and all of that is a result of me smoking,” said Smith.

Smith, along with other anti-smoking advocates were in the Capitol, pushing to raise the age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.

 

“I don’t want anybody else to have to go through that,” said Smith.

Studies show half of 8th graders say it’s easy to get cigarettes. The American Heart and Stroke Associations says the current legal age means younger kids have access to the products through schoolmates and older siblings.

“And if we’re able to break that cycle because they’re afraid to deal with a 21-year-old, then we’ll keep the cigarettes out of the hands of younger children longer,” said Rivers Buford with the American Heart and Strokes Associations.

The five states that have raised the legal age have seen a decrease in tobacco use. Despite success stories, the Legislation hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing in either chamber.

The Senate blames the House for the bill failing to gain traction.

 

“There’s no bills moving in the House on this… If it’s already dead it’d be a waste of the committee’s time,” said Senator Travis Hutson.

Advocates point the finger at the 67 lobbyists representing tobacco companies in Florida’s Capitol.

A CDC report found three out of four Americans support raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21. The same report found seven out of ten smokers also approve of raising the age.

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