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During their legislative session, Arkansas law makers voted to raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 over a two year period. The law goes into effect on September 1, 2019.
Tobacco21.org opposed the Arkansas law because it failed to include components of a strong Tobacco 21 law (i.e. it lacked adequate enforcement, did not place sufficient penalties on the retailers for selling harmful products) and added preemption provisions, which significantly undermine local public health efforts in the state of Arkansas.
Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress
In June, 2016 Helena-West Helena became the first city in the Arkansas to pass a Tobacco 21 ordinance by an astounding 9-0 vote. Keisha Grigsby and the Family and Youth enrichment network proposed and helped to draft the ordinance. They deserve a standing ovation, along with the council members who listened and acted to protect the young lives in their community.
Arkansas has one of the highest rates of high school smoking and adult smoking in the country. This will result in the eventual deaths of an estimated 69,000 children now under the age of 18 due to smoking, with 1,700 children becoming daily smokers every year. The state spends only 29.7% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, this is almost a 50% decrease in funding since 2016. The state’s annual health care costs due to smoking is $1.21 billion, and the state loses $1.7 billion in productivity every year due to smoking.