Virginia

Virginia currently has a below national average rate of high school smoking, and above national average rate of adult smoking. An estimated 150,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die prematurely due to smoking, with 4,100 children becoming daily smokers each year. The high school student’s e-cigarette usage rate is 16.8%; driving up Virginia’s overall youth tobacco use rates.

The result is an annual health care cost of $3.11 billion that is directly caused by smoking, and other $3.06 billion in lost productivity. Despite this, the state only spends 11.7% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, and has the second lowest per pack tax in the nation of $0.30.

There is no preemption language present in state law keeping localities from raising the Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) to 21. Local governments are free to enact ordinances to better protect their kids from addiction. It has been our experience that the most powerful incentive for the state legislature to act is the initiative of local citizens and governmental leaders. Statewide, California and Hawaii’s laws both began at the local level where powerful tobacco industry lobbyists have little sway. We encourage you to talk to your local city council person, county council member or board of health leader. Local champions have largely driven this movement in non-preempted states. Your voice is more influential than you think. Constituents are an impetus for change at the community and statewide levels. Garner interest around Tobacco 21 at the local and state level by communicating with your local legislators through phone calls, emails, and testimony at local government meetings. For more information, you may contact:

April Seliga
Eastern Region Director
Tobacco 21
April.Seliga@Tobacco21.org

Amy Barkley
Director, Tobacco States and Mid-Atlantic
Tobacco Free Kids
ABarkley@Tobaccofreekids.Org

or visit our sources:

Tobacco Free Kids Virginia: “The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.”

American Lung Association State Report Card : “The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.”

SLATI State Information Virginia: “SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.”


The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

1) Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
2) Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
3) Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
4) Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products.

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