Mar 14, 2019 2:00 PM

hands holding a cigarette broken in two

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah applauds the bold actions taken by the Utah State Legislature this week in addressing tobacco-related health issues. The state’s approval of a policy that incrementally increases the age from 19 to 21 for the sale and use of tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and vaping devices—a policy called Tobacco 21—is a step that will ensure Utah remains a national leader in health by reducing tobacco-related illnesses and protecting youth from nicotine addiction.  

“Utah’s legislature has taken a step that will have a profound impact for generations to come on the fight against tobacco, which remains the number one cause of preventable death in the United States,” said Mary Beckerle, PhD, CEO of HCI. “Tobacco 21 is a crucial step toward reducing tobacco use in our state, saving lives through cancer prevention, and ensuring that Utah remains a national leader in health. We are extremely grateful to the bill’s primary sponsor, Representative Steve Eliason, along with other key leaders, including Senator Curt Bramble, Representative Paul Ray, and the dozens of other legislators who worked together to pass Tobacco 21.” 

Utah becomes only the eighth state in the United States—joining California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia—to pass statewide laws raising the minimum legal age of sale for all tobacco products to 21. Last month, Utah cities Lehi and Cedar Hills enacted similar city ordinances and advocated for statewide action.

The passage of Tobacco 21 in Utah comes at a critical time. Research shows that 95 percent of tobacco users start using tobacco products before the age of 21. For several years, tobacco use by Utah teens had been on the decline. Yet with the emergence of new products such as e-cigarettes and vaping devices combined with kid-friendly flavors and advertisements targeting Utah’s youths, tobacco use by Utah teens has nearly doubled since 2013.

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Heather Simonsen
Public Relations – Huntsman Cancer Institute
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About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West. The campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital and two buildings dedicated to cancer research. Huntsman Cancer Institute provides patient care, cancer screening, and education at community clinics and affiliate hospitals throughout the Mountain West. It is consistently recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The region’s first proton therapy center opened in 2021 and a major hospital expansion is underway. Huntsman Cancer Institute is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for staff, students, patients, and communities. Advancing cancer research discoveries and treatments to meet the needs of patients who live far away from a major medical center is a unique focus. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center, including genes responsible for breast, ovarian, colon, head and neck cancers, and melanoma. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

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