ASCO Supports Recent Tobacco Legislation

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On August 8, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rule giving the agency the authority to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, and pipe tobacco took effect.

In May, ASCO applauded the FDA for exercising its congressionally mandated authority to regulate e-cigarettes as a crucial step in further regulating deadly tobacco products and ascertaining the true risks and potential health benefits of using electronic nicotine delivery systems.

The new regulations immediately taking effect are restrictions on sales to people under 18 years old, as well as a ban on marketing these products with claims that they have lower health risks than other tobacco products. Additional regulations will take effect at a later date.

ASCO also recently posted a new policy brief, Minimum Legal Age for Purchase of Tobacco Products, in support of increasing the minimum legal age of purchase of tobacco products to 21 years of age.

The minimum age of legal access to tobacco products is set by the U.S. government at 18 years of age. However, state and local governments can set older ages. So far, the minimum legal age has been raised to 21 in two states (Hawaii and California) and at least 170 localities in 13 states including Boston, New York City, and Chicago.

Additionally, the Tobacco to 21 Act (H.R. 3656/S. 2100) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Diana DeGette (D–CO) and in the Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz (D–HI), to increase the age nationally.

The Institute of Medicine concluded in a 2015 report that raising the minimum age of legal access would result in reductions and delays tobacco use initiation that were substantial enough to prevent hundreds of thousands of premature tobacco-caused deaths. ■

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