Letter: Raise the smoking and vaping age to 21

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Vape mods for sale at a store in Taylorsville.

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic, increasing a staggering 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018. Increasing the legal sales age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 will help prevent kids from starting tobacco use.

However, in the American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of Tobacco Control” report, Utah earned a dismal “F” for its failure to increase the tobacco sales age to 21.

The American Lung Association in Utah urges the Legislature to pass legislation that would raise the minimum sales age for all tobacco products to 21 years old. About 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21, and this legislation will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives, according to a 2015 National Academy of Medicine report.

Six states and the District of Columbia have already taken this important step to protect public health. The evidence is clear. State lawmakers need to end their failure to act and increase the tobacco sales age to 21 in Utah without delay.

Michael Siler, Midvale

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