AAFP Calls on Congress to Pass Tobacco to 21 Legislation

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224

LEAWOOD, Kan. — The American Academy of Family Physicians enthusiastically supports the Tobacco to 21 Act, S. 2100, a bill that would raise the national minimum legal age for buying or using tobacco, according to a letter sent today to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), the sponsor of the bill.

The current national minimum age for buying or using tobacco products is 18.

“The need for this legislation is clear,” wrote AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder, MD, in the letter. “The value of preventing individuals from starting to smoke until they are at least 21 is due to the greater danger of addiction for the young person when tobacco use is initiated before 21.”

In its position paper on tobacco use, the AAFP has called for policies that strictly limit tobacco use and exposure, including more aggressive Food and Drug Administration regulation of all nicotine, tax measures to reduce demand for tobacco products, and availability of education, communication, training, and public awareness, and support of tobacco cessation programs.

“The AAFP is pleased to join with so many other organizations concerned about the public health to support the Tobacco to 21 Act, and we urge Congress to pass this needed legislation as quickly as possible,” Blackwelder wrote.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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