Smoking sign outside Reedsburg City Hall (copy)

A sign outside Reedsburg City Hall banning smoking and vaping inside the building. 

On Nov. 6, medical experts and concerned parents, as well as students and school officials from across the state, testified in support of Assembly Bill 422, legislation to increase the legal sales age for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21 years of age.

Health experts described the devastating consequences of tobacco and e-cigarette use and how so many of their high school-aged patients want to quit but are struggling with nicotine addiction. High school students and principals described how rampant e-cigarette use has become in Wisconsin. Examples were presented of students who are selling their designer jeans and other belongings to purchase vape products, and another student testified that upperclassmen have no problem making a quick buck by reselling a new Juul. Other testimony was given that empty Juul pods litter the ground at her child’s middle school.

Medical professionals, school officials, parents and students are asking our elected leaders for help. This is an epidemic, and regulation is needed to get these products out of the hands of our youth. Eighteen states have already increased the minimum sales age from 18 to 21. As a public health policy, "Tobacco 21" is the first step to help eliminate this epidemic in our schools.

Some may say, “If you’re old enough to serve in the military, you’re old enough to smoke.” The surgeon generals of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Unites States all support efforts that reduce tobacco use among members of our military, because tobacco products threaten the health, fitness and readiness of our nation’s soldiers. Smoking is not a freedom, it’s a bondage.

We ask everyone in the state of Wisconsin to contact your legislators and voice your support for Assembly Bill 422.

Tim Sanborn, M.D., M.S.; Ann Dodge, N.P.; and Carrie Chapman, M.D., are members of the Wisconsin Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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