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Letter: Require people buying tobacco to be at least 21

Require people buying tobacco to be at least 21

Tobacco use is the No. 1 preventable cause of death. It kills up to 50 percent of its users by causing a variety of chronic and lethal diseases including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease.

Each year, the World Health Organization holds World No Tobacco Day on May 31 to spread awareness of the dangers of tobacco and promote measures to decrease tobacco use. This May, the Western New York community should mark World No Tobacco Day by working to put Tobacco 21 laws into place, as Chautauqua County has recently done.

Tobacco companies aggressively market their product, spending billions of dollars each year on advertising, much of it targeted to youth, in order to recruit what they call “replacement users.” A Tobacco 21 law would increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 years. This would go a long way in preventing tobacco companies from targeting our children to become tobacco users.

Research shows that 90 percent of smokers start smoking before age 18, and 90 percent of people who give cigarettes to minors are under the age of 21. A Tobacco 21 law could reduce these frightening statistics, reduce youth tobacco use rates and eventually reduce the occurrence of tobacco-related diseases in our community.

Let’s create healthier communities and mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31 by calling for a Tobacco 21 law in all of Western New York.

Emily Foschio

Tobacco Control Specialist

Roswell Park Cancer Institute