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Study: More Americans Support Increasing The Age Limit To Buy Tobacco

A Duke University study found a link between poverty and smoking in adolescents.
Valentin Ottone via Flickr, Creative Commons

A national study shows most Americans support raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.

The survey was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University.

Support for increasing the age limit was widespread across all geographic and demographic groups, according to UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine Professor Adam Goldstein, one of the authors of the study.

"Even a majority of smokers were in favor of these policies," Goldstein said. "While it's true that nonsmokers support them more, this is one of the few policies that we've ever seen where a majority of smokers actually do support this policy."

A report from the National Academy of Medicine estimates raising the minimum age for tobacco sales could reduce smoking rates by as much as 12 percent.

Hawaii, California and a handful of cities have already raised the minimum age from 18 to 21, a trend Goldstein expects will continue, adding that widespread popularity of the policy should make it easy for politicians to support.

"They can feel assured this is not a partisan issue, and it's not smokers and nonsmokers, this isn't pitting one group or another," he said. "I think policy makers can lead and certainly the public is going to be behind them."

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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