The minimum legal sale age prohibits retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone under that age. The current minimum legal sales age in Montana is 18.
Most smokers start smoking before age 21. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 80% of adult smokers smoked their first cigarette before they turned 18, and nearly 95% started before age 21. Raising the minimum legal sale age to 21, along with other tobacco control strategies, could prevent youth tobacco use and save lives. For more information, view the Tobacco 21 Infographic!
Benefits of Raising the Minimum Legal Sales Age to 21
- Reduce tobacco use initiation: A 2015 study out of the Institute of Medicine used mathematical modeling and found that Tobacco 21 has the potential to reduce initiation by 25%, leading to a 12% reduction in smoking.
- Keep tobacco out of schools: Teen smoking is not powered by illegal sales nearly as much as by legal sales to older youth. Raising access to age 21 puts legal purchasers outside the social circle of most high school students.
- Reduce underage sales: Tobacco 21 reduces underage sales. It’s harder for kids to pass as a 21-year-old than it is to pass as an 18-year-old.
- Simplify age checks: Tobacco 21 simplifies age checks for tobacco retailers since they are already carding for alcohol sales. With Tobacco 21, retailers would only have to pay attention to one year, instead of two.
Has this been done before?
Yes! More than 290 localities and five states have raised the minimum legal sales age to 21.
Youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe.
Nicotine use poses a significant and avoidable health risk to young people. Nicotine affects brain development, which continues until age 25. Nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and permanent lowering of impulse control are all risks of using nicotine products during adolescence.
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Youth and Young Adults
Big Tobacco is targeting youth to create life-long customers. As current tobacco-users are dying, Big Tobacco needs to find their “replacement smokers.” Find out how youth are being targeted and how MTUPP is countering the efforts.
reACT is Montana’s teen-led movement against Big Tobacco. reACT joins statewide youth empowerment movements across the country in recognizing the power of young people to effectively take on the leading cause of preventable death: commercial tobacco use.
Quit Help for Youth
You are welcome to call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line if you are under the age of 18 for free coaching; however, Nicotine Replacement Therapy is not approved by the FDA for individuals younger than 18. For additional help, visit SmokefreeTeen. Today is a great day to quit.