Michael B. Steinberg, MD, MPH; Cristine D. Delnevo, PhD, MPH
This article was published online first at www.annals.org on 26 August 2013.
Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed. Forms can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M13-1271.
Requests for Single Reprints: Michael B. Steinberg, MD, MPH, Rutgers–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Division of General Internal Medicine, 125 Paterson Street, Suite 2304, New Brunswick, NJ 08903; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Author Addresses: Dr. Steinberg: Division of General Internal Medicine, Rutgers–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 125 Paterson Street, Suite 2300, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.
Dr. Delnevo: Rutgers School of Public Health, Department of Health Education and Behavioral Science, 335 George Street, Liberty Plaza, Suite 2100, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: M.B. Steinberg, C.D. Delnevo.
Drafting of the article: M.B. Steinberg, C.D. Delnevo.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: M.B. Steinberg, C.D. Delnevo.
Final approval of the article: M.B. Steinberg, C.D. Delnevo.
Steinberg M., Delnevo C.; Increasing the “Smoking Age”: The Right Thing to Do. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159: 558-559. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-8-201310150-00695
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(8): 558-559.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and the goal of comprehensive tobacco control is to reduce its harm to society. Helping smokers quit is insufficient—it is also critical to prevent young people from ever taking a puff on that first cigarette. Toward this aim, New York City has proposed to increase the legal age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21 years and to make it illegal for merchants to sell tobacco to persons younger than 21 years.
The proposed policy is grounded in strong epidemiologic evidence, given that nearly 90% of adults who smoke on a daily basis had their first cigarette by age 18 years (1), and the transition from tobacco experimentation to regular use typically occurs during young adulthood (1, 2). Moreover, as a means to reduce access to minors, it is important to consider that 90% of cigarettes purchased for them are done so by people aged 18 to 20 years (3). Young adults also serve as a primary role model for teens, and the tobacco industry has historically capitalized on this through heavy marketing to young adults (4). As such, making it more difficult for young adults to purchase cigarettes has the potential to interrupt the trajectory from experimentation to regular use. It may also have the benefit of further limiting minors’ access to tobacco by cutting off their usual sources.
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Cardiology, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Substance Abuse, Coronary Risk Factors, Smoking.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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