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Randy Kovar, Tobacco 21 Advocate of the Month

For Tobacco 21, our message is spread to communities through advocates who are as passionate about the cause as we are. For North Wantagh, N.Y., resident Randy Kovar, Tobacco 21 is a cause that he advocates not only in his own community, but he urges a change to raise the age all over the country.

“Tobacco 21 is so important to our communities due to the fact that it will save lives,” Kovar said. “I among many people support the evidence of the advantages of raising the purchase and consumption age of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and all forms of tobacco products up to 21. The opponents of this measure will be on the wrong side of history as this project continues.”

Kovar lives and works in Nassau County, which is adjacent to the New York City borough of Queens. New York City implemented Tobacco 21 in May 2014, and Nassau County’s tobacco purchase age is set at 19 years of age. Although a previous Tobacco 21 initiative had failed in Nassau County, Kovar is persistent in his efforts to raising the age in his county and protecting future generations of Long Islanders.

“I believe it will saves the lives of many young people from starting the filthy habit at such a young age,” Kovar said.

As a long-time Tobacco 21 advocate, Kovar is optimistic about the future of Tobacco 21 in Nassau County and communities across the country. His key advice is persistence and never giving up.

“My advice to current and future advocates is that if they feel strongly about raising the age of this product to 21 is to stand your ground and not ever give up,” Kovar said. “I urge them to call their elected officials and talk to their friends and neighbors and take it to social media. I know personally is that I will not ever change my mind or back down from pursuing this issue. I am staying with it.”

If you’d like to become an advocate in your community like Randy, download our advocacy materials HERE!

Lane County, OR passes the state’s first Tobacco 21 Ordinance

Lane County, the home of the University of Oregon, became the first city in Oregon to pass a tobacco 21 ordinance. The ordinance covers all areas in the county, both incorporated and unincorporated, as an act of the Board of Health. The effort was originally started by Commissioner Jay Bozievich, who has been a driving force behind Lane County’s effort as well as a supporter of the statewide effort to raise the minimum legal sales age (MLSA) to 21.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Bozievich voted “no” for the new ordinance, as it did not include a clause to grandfather current 18 year olds already smoking into the new law, allowing them to continue to buy tobacco products. While his intent behind grandfathering was well-meaning, to aid those already addicted, there are ways to reach this same goal without continuing the supply line of tobacco products into high schools. Offering FDA approved cessation services through the county health department, using the quit line, and writing a 6-8 month implementation date lead-up are only a few of the ways to assist those already addicted toward quitting tobacco products completely.

We thank Commissioner Bozievich, Lane County Board of Health, and the Lane County Health & Human Services for their action to protect children from a lifetime of addiction in Oregon.

Guam’s Outlook for Passing T21 Law in 2017 Brighter

Guam’s Speaker of the Legislature, Senator Ben Cruz, has been a supporter of tobacco 21 in Guam for the past three years. His work shows dedication to protecting the youth in Guam from the dangers of tobacco use. In 2016, his bill passed the legislature, but was then left on the governor’s desk to remain unsigned. This year, it seems like the momentum for tobacco 21 has finally swung around to Guam, with a 15-0 vote in the legislature to pass the minimum legal sales age increase, it will be hard for the governor to deny this pressing issue again. Many thanks to Senator Cruz for his dedication to public health and promoting the healthy lives of his constituents.


What Is Tobacco 21?

Tobacco 21 is a national campaign taking a local approach to raising the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 years of age. Established in 1996, Tobacco 21 and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation strive to reduce smoking and tobacco use through a preventive effort locally and on the state level all over the United States and American territories such as Guam. Over 220 cities and two states, Hawaii and California, have already raised the age, and your city or state could be next!

Why 21?

The younger the buyer is, the less likely they are to achieve a purchase even with current shoddy enforcement. Moreover, most social sources of tobacco for teens are themselves younger than 21. Age 21 reduces initiation in younger kids and inhibits consolidation of addiction in older teens.

The National Youth Tobacco Survey reports that in 2014 overall use of tobacco among youth rose, exposing dangerous new trends. Clever marketing by the tobacco industry, pushing small cigars, hookahs, e-cigarettes, and flavored vaping products, has put millions of young people at risk of lifelong lethal nicotine addiction.

We’ve also learned a lot from the age restriction on alcohol. After the age was raised to 21 in all states, total drinking by high school seniors dropped by 38 percent, binge drinking fell by a similar amount, and daily drinking fell by half. Enforcement remains spotty and drinking by teenagers remains a serious problem, but those gains persist even today among teens. Most significantly, today’s 30 year-olds also drink at a significantly lower rate than those of a generation ago.

Clearly, not all of this effect was due to increasing the legal drinking age. Many other forces were also at work. However, a study examining just those states where the legal drinking age was raised shows a significant effect.

Want to Get Involved?

You can get involved by educating you and your peers on the Tobacco 21 movement and present your concerns about teen tobacco use to your local governing bodies such as a City Council or State Representative. You can also request an Advocacy Kit from Tobacco 21 with everything you need to know about the movement.

Texas is Optimistic About Tobacco 21

Tobacco 21 seems to have more momentum moving into the 2017 Legislative Session in Texas than in years past. Bi-partisan support seems to point toward a brighter future for a minimum legal sales age increase.

The bill has two main sponsors: Representative John Zerwas and Senator Joan Huffman. Both the Senator and Representative have key positions in the legislature, making their involvement that much more impactful.

Texas recognizes that smoking related disease is still the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. contributing to hundreds of thousands of lives lost, even more various morbidities, and millions of dollars in health care expenditures among many more negative effects.

By dedicating their time and effort to raising the MLSA of all tobacco products to 21 in Texas, lawmakers forge a brighter future for their youth, one free of a deadly and expensive addiction. Follow the link at the top of the description for more.