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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Michigan: Raising Tobacco Purchase Age to 21 Would Prevent Thousands of Premature Deaths in Michigan

Restricting sales of tobacco products to people 21 and older could keep 11,000 Michiganders from starting to smoke, potentially avoiding premature deaths in two-thirds of that population, according to a new study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The change would translate into 17,000 fewer smoking-related deaths and 198,000 fewer smokers in five years, according to researchers who analyzed the potential impact if Michigan were to pass Tobacco 21 legislation. Seven states and more than 400 municipalities have already enacted such laws, and a measure was introduced in Michigan’s House of Representatives in January.

“Passing a Tobacco 21 law in Michigan has the potential to save lives, but only if the law is carefully implemented in a way that supports, rather than stigmatizes, the people it affects,” said Dr. Holly Jarman, assistant professor at the School of Public Health.

To be effective, the researchers say, Tobacco 21 legislation should be part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, including unit price increases for tobacco products, strong support for smoking cessation services and prevention activities for affected young people.

“Rather than thinking about Tobacco 21 in isolation, it is very important to think about the best ways to support those who will be affected by any such law, and provide resources to help young people quit if already smoking,” said Dr. Rafael Meza, associate professor at the School of Public Health and a member of the research team.

The team’s work was funded by the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, as part of its inaugural Policy Sprint initiative.

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