To the editor:
As a retired pulmonologist and member of the board of directors of Breathe New Hampshire, we are disappointed in the new state law the raises the tobacco-products’ sales age, including e-cigarettes and vapes, to only 19. This is not a proven public-health strategy and is not based on science.
Nineteen is not enough because: brains are still developing up to age 25; nicotine is highly addictive and rewires young brains; 18 to 20 is when smokers and vapers typically become daily users; 95 percent of those who use tobacco products start before 21; and 88 percent start before 18.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 21 as the minimum age for sales of tobacco products. This is critical to protect youth targeted by the vape and tobacco industry. The science is clear that the brain is the last organ to develop. This makes it uniquely susceptible to addicting substances like nicotine.
Nineteen doesn’t go far enough to protect teens and pre-teens from tobacco initiation and nicotine addiction, and to prevent lung disease.
Breathe New Hampshire was instrumental in getting HB 1541 passed in 2010, prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors — one of the first states to do so. We are committed to preventing lung disease and youth nicotine addiction, and offering public education about the youth vaping epidemic through our signature program, Vaping Unveiled, What Everyone Needs to Know.
Go to BreatheNH.org or call (603) 669-2411.
Albee Budnitz, MD, FACP, FCCP Breathe New Hampshire member