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ATLANTA — The majority of adults favor boosting the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 just as municipalities, and one state, implemented the new minimum age.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number comes in at three out of four — including 7 in 10 cigarette smokers. While an overwhelming majority of adults favored the policy overall, favorability is slightly higher among adults who never smoked and older adults. In contrast, 11 percent of adults strongly opposed making 21 the legal age of sale, while 14 percent somewhat opposed such measures.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Hawaii became the first state to hike the minimum legal buying age to 21 last month, as CSNews Online previously reported. Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have set the age at 19. Most states have kept the age at 18.
In addition, several municipalities — starting with Needham, Mass., in 2005 — have passed legislation increasing the age to 21.
"Raising the minimum age of sale to 21 could benefit the health of Americans in several ways," said Brian King, acting deputy director for Research Translation in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit."
Data for the study came from Styles, a nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The findings are consistent with those from a national survey conducted in 2013 and polls of voters in Colorado and Utah that found 57 percent and 67 percent, respectively, favor such policies. Favorability for the policies was found to increase with increasing age, according to the CDC.