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Tennessee is yet another state that considered Tobacco 21 in recent years. Unfortunately, the bills have failed to garner support. However, this may be the start of growing interest in Tobacco 21 in Tennessee.
Tennessee has above national average rates of both high school and adult smoking. An estimated 125,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die early due to smoking, with 3,100 children becoming daily smokers each year. The high school student’s e-cigarette usage rate is 11.5%; driving up Tennessee’s overall youth tobacco use rates.
The result is a $2.67 billion annual health care cost that is directly attributable to smoking, and another $3.59 billion in lost productivity. Despite this, the state spends only 10.2% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, though this has grown in recent years. Tennessee also has one of the lowest taxes in the nation at only $0.62.
State law does not allow for local Tobacco 21 laws, but this does not mean local government can’t play an important role. A good example is Washington State, which is also preempted locally concerning Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) increases. In Washington, city councils and local boards of health passed resolutions in support of the statewide law under consideration by the legislature. Resolutions cost nothing, but clearly help fuel momentum toward better protection for your kids. Please consider calling your local board of health, city council member or county commissioner. Your voice is very important to legislators considering Tobacco 21 laws, all it takes is one or two phone calls or emails to support the movement to raise the age.