Researchers from ClearWay Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health this week released an article in Minnesota Medicine concluding that raising the state’s tobacco age to 21 would have important health benefits. Their calculations suggest raising the age would prevent thousands of Minnesota kids from becoming smokers.
“Two states and more than 200 cities across the country have raised the tobacco age to 21,” said our Director of Research Programs, Dr. Raymond Boyle, who coauthored the study. “The data we lay out in this article provide compelling proof that such a policy would have an enormous health benefit in Minnesota.”
The article, “Raising the Minimum Legal Sale Age for Tobacco to 21,” was published in the January-February issue of Minnesota Medicine. It is the first of its kind to flesh out the specific statewide impact that raising the tobacco age would have on the smoking behavior of adolescents and young adults.
Specifically, if Minnesota raised the legal sale age to 21:
- 25 percent fewer 15-year-olds would start smoking by the time they turn 18; and
- 15 percent fewer 18-year-olds would start smoking by the time they turn 21.
This translates into 30,000 young people not becoming smokers over the next 15 years.
“Minnesota’s comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention and treatment – including strong policies – has contributed to significantly less smoking in recent years,” said Dr. Boyle. “But this research shows that raising the tobacco age to 21 would prevent future generations of young people from starting and help to end the burden of cigarette smoking.”