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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

Curbing tobacco use early is critical for long-term health

Berkeley, California (Thursday, June 09, 2016) - Californians must now be at least 21 years old to buy tobacco, a highly addictive drug with a deep impact on public health and whose use the City of Berkeley works to curb through a number of initiatives and City Council measures.

Those 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who previously could buy tobacco and "e-cigarettes" now cannot. Retailers need to be extra vigilant to not sell to those who are under age.

Eliminating tobacco use among youth is essential, further restricting tobacco access at an age when lifelong habits can start. Roughly 90 percent of adults who smoke daily report that they first began using cigarettes before age 19, according to a federal study.

Increasing the minimum age to 21 nationwide would result in 200,000 fewer premature deaths for those born between the years 2000 and 2019, according to the researchers. Approximately 217,000 California youth between the ages of 12 and 17 currently smoke traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine, a path to lifelong addiction.  Contrary to popular belief, they don't help people to stop smoking.  

Those looking to quit smoking can take free smoking cessation classes from City of Berkeley Public Health. For more information or to register, contact: QuitNow@cityofberkeley.info or (510) 981-5330.

The new state law, which went into effect Thursday, will also decrease long-term medical costs associated with tobacco-related diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, worsening asthma and babies born too small or too soon.

The state law comes after the Berkeley City Council voted in January to amend Berkeley Municipal Code and prohibit the selling of tobacco-related products, including flavored tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems and e-liquid, to individuals under the age of 21.

The new state law supplements Berkeley's efforts to decrease smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. These include the prohibition of vaping wherever smoking is prohibited, and the prohibition of smoking and vaping in all multi-unit housing complexes in Berkeley.  Starting January 1, 2017, Berkeley will further restrict youth exposure to youth by limiting sale of tobacco products near schools.

For more information, please visit the California Department of Public Health's website at: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/tobacco/Pages/Tobacco21.aspx


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