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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.

Recent Updates

  • 3/15/2016House Bill 1978 fails in Agriculture and Natural Resources committee

  • 1/21/2016 – Republican Bob Ramsey introduces Tobacco 21 bill, House Bill 1978

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Tennessee In The News

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Other Helpful Resources:

Tobacco Free Kids Tennessee

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 Tennessee

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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