SRU health professional embraces efforts to deter smoking, supports new law raising minimum age to buy tobacco products

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Smoking laws have changed

Effective Dec. 20, 2019, an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was signed into law that raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.

Jan. 22, 2020

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — As students return to Slippery Rock University for the spring 2020 semester, the ability for many of them to legally purchase cigarettes on their way back to campus has gone up in smoke. Effective Dec. 20, 2019, an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was signed into law that raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco and cigars, and the new law makes it illegal for a retailer to sell tobacco products to anyone younger than 21.

"Any legislation that will deter tobacco use is certainly welcomed and will help save lives," said Vanessa Vought, health promotions coordinator in SRU Student Health Services. "Still, college students are susceptible to becoming addicted when they reach the age to legally buy tobacco products, so it's important for them to recognize the risks."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., killing more than 480,000 Americans each year.

Data released by the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment indicates that from 2013 to 2019, college students who reported using cigarettes in the last 30 days, decreased from 13% to 6.4%. However, e-cigarette use, or vaping, increased from 4.5% in 2016 to 12.6% in 2019.

Raising the age limit to 21 to purchase tobacco products is expected to make a considerable difference. Approximately 95% of adult smokers began smoking before turning 21 and about 80% started before age 18, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It is predicted that raising the age of sale will further prevent tobacco from reaching high school students, as three quarters of current smokers ages 15-17 reported obtaining cigarettes from social sources, according to a 2018 Nicotine & Tobacco Research study.

SRU Student Health Services provides tobacco-related education through its Health Promotion Office. The Healthy Outreach Through Peer Education program conducts educational programming each November in connection with the American Cancer Society's Great American Smoke Out. To learn more, call 724.738.4888 or email srupeers@gmail.com.

Smoking cessation resources and classes are available in Butler County through the Keystone Wellness Programs or by calling the Pennsylvania Department of Health's PA Free Quitline at 1.800.QUIT.NOW.

To view the University's smoking/vaping policy, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu