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.

Media Contact

Debby Rogers
Public Relations - Huntsman Cancer Institute
801-587-7639

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah. The cancer campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital as well as two buildings dedicated to cancer research. HCI treats patients with all forms of cancer and is recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. As the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West, HCI serves the largest geographic region in the country, drawing patients from Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at HCI than at any other cancer center in the world, including genes responsible for hereditary breast, ovarian, colon, head, and neck cancers, along with melanoma. HCI manages the Utah Population Database, the largest genetic database in the world, with information on more than 11 million people linked to genealogies, health records, and vital statistics. HCI was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.