The American Heart Association and other partners in the fight to end tobacco use are working on legislation in New Hampshire to raise the legal sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21 years. This is an emerging policy tool for advocates to reduce youth initiation of tobacco. Maine passed a statewide law this year, and many communities in Massachusetts have set their own legal sales age to 21.
Tobacco use in New Hampshire has gone down among both adults and youth due to some policy changes over the years. Smoke-free restaurants have taken public tobacco use out of the mainstream, and reduced second-hand smoke exposure. But the numbers of people who use tobacco are still too high, including kids under the age of 18. In fact, most people who use tobacco started before the age of 18.
Adolescents aged 18 and 19, who are still students in high school, are therefore in the same social circles as adolescents who are 15-17 years old. Many younger teens get their cigarettes from older teens. New Hampshire can reduce the number of kids age 15-17 who start using tobacco by raising the sales age to 21.
Why is smoking so bad for your health?
Tobacco contains a chemical called “nicotine” that gives smokers a pleasant feeling. People get addicted to that good feeling. Electronic cigarettes and “vapes” also deliver nicotine. Just because these products are high-tech doesn’t mean they’re safe. In addition to the nicotine, tobacco products have lots of other poisonous chemicals in them. These toxic substances can destroy your body over time, especially your heart and lungs.
Some of the thousands of chemicals found in cigarette smoke or smokeless tobacco are also found in other familiar things:
- Acetone — nail polish remover
- Hydrogen cyanide — insecticide
- Methanol — antifreeze
- Cadmium — batteries
- Hydrazine — rocket fuel
- Toluene — paint thinner
- Polonium 210 — nuclear waste
- Formaldehyde — embalming fluid
- Lead — once used in paint
- Nitrosamines — cancer-causing substances
- Arsenic— used in pesticides
- Propylene glycol – automobile anti-freeze
To get more involved, visit https://www.yourethecure.org/.