Journal Gazette Editorial: ‘Prevention is Key’
“Young wisely proposes smoking-age increase”
WASHINGTON – The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette today published an editorial supporting U.S. Senator Todd Young’s (R-Ind.) Tobacco to 21 Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.
“U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, has introduced a bill to raise the smoking age nationally to 21. It deserves strong support,” the editorial states.
“’Prevention,’ Young said, ‘is the key.’ Saving lives, cutting health care costs – it's somehow fitting that a senator from Indiana, with the 45th-worst smoking rate in the nation, should lead the way.”
View the full editorial here and below.
'Prevention is key'
By: Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Editorial Board
May 2, 2019
Young wisely proposes smoking-age increase
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, has introduced a bill to raise the smoking age nationally to 21. It deserves strong support.
Raising the age to purchase tobacco will not keep young people from getting cigarettes. But anything that can be done to make that more difficult will help. As Young's office noted in a release, “Roughly 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 21, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion a year.”
While tobacco exacts a toll in lives and health in every state, Indiana is particularly hard-hit. More than one of five Hoosier adults smokes; tobacco-related illnesses kill 11,000 people here each year and add $2.93 billion to the state's health care costs.
If Young and his bipartisan group of cosponsors are successful, they will accomplish something the Indiana legislature failed to do during its just-concluded session. Despite support from a broad coalition of business and medical leaders, state lawmakers sidelined a proposal to raise the age limit. They also failed to act on proposals to raise the tobacco tax and impose a tax on vaping products.
In an interview Wednesday, Young said conversations with experts and with young people, including his own children, persuaded him the time had come for federal action to discourage cigarette smoking and vaping. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who previously was Indiana state health commissioner, told Young vaping is epidemic in high schools, with use rising by 900% between 2009 and 2015.
Young co-authored his bill with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and brought on Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin and Utah Republican Mitt Romney.
For policymakers, the measure's appeal lies in its potential to bring down health care costs, which are largely driven by non-medical factors. “It's diet, it's our air quality, it's smoking, exercise,” Young said. But in terms of congressional action, the single most impactful and achievable change is raising the tobacco age, he said.
Young said he was aware of recent efforts to raise the smoking age in Indiana, but “I really think that this requires a federal solution.”
There are vendors who locate near state lines, he said, enabling young people forbidden from purchasing tobacco products in their own state to buy them just across the border.
Young's proposal is getting strong support from state leaders and organizations who tried unsuccessfully to get the legislature to tackle the issue.
“With over 4,100 Hoosiers under age 18 becoming new daily smokers each year, raising the age of tobacco purchase from 18 to 21 would be a huge deterrent for future smokers,” Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, said in a statement.
Dr. Paul Halverson of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI noted that the National Academy of Medicine predicts such a measure could “prevent youth smoking initiation by 25%, decrease overall smoking rates by 12%, avert 225,000 premature deaths, and prevent 4.2 million years of life lost.”
“Prevention,” Young said, “is the key.”
Saving lives, cutting health care costs – it's somehow fitting that a senator from Indiana, with the 45th-worst smoking rate in the nation, should lead the way.
Next Article Previous Article