• As a pediatrician, I cannot think of a more important first step in the fight to end youth tobacco use than ensuring retailers cannot sell these harmful products to children and adolescents.
  • Although the federal government passed a Tobacco 21 law in 2019, states must enact their own bans to ensure this policy can be adequately enforced.
  • As of July 2022, 40 states and Washington, DC have enacted Tobacco 21 bans -- it is vital that every state takes action to keep teens away from tobacco products.
  • The majority (85%) of adults who smoke daily begin before age 21, meaning that raising the minimum legal sales age to 21 years would be an effective strategy to prevent youth and young adult initiation of tobacco use.
  • States with Tobacco 21 implemented should make sure their policies are enforceable – focusing penalties on retailers and licensees rather than youth purchasers.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must also play its part by aggressively requiring retailer compliance to ensure these products are being withheld from children.

For pediatricians in states without Tobacco 21 passed:

  • It is crucial that [STATE] passes Tobacco 21 so we can begin effectively protecting our teens against nicotine addiction.
  • As a pediatrician, I cannot emphasize enough the long-term dangers kids face when they are able to readily access tobacco products.
  • I urge Governor [NAME] and the state legislature to prioritize the implementation of Tobacco 21 in the upcoming/current legislature session.

For pediatricians in states with weak/unenforceable Tobacco 21 laws:

  • Although [STATE] has passed Tobacco 21, much more needs to be done to ensure this policy is being enforced effectively and equitably.
  • (If applicable) Our leaders must update [STATE’S] Tobacco 21 policy to include e-cigarettes, since these devices are a key driver in youth tobacco use in our state.
  • (If applicable) Our state leaders must ensure that retailers are subject to a mandatory minimum number of thorough compliance checks so we can be certain our children are not being sold dangerous, addictive products.
  • (If applicable) As a pediatrician, I’m concerned about the role of law enforcement in enforcing our Tobacco 21 policy – this creates an unnecessary touch point for youth and police, especially among youth who are disenfranchised and are already aggressively targeted by the tobacco industry.
Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics