Letter to the editor: Raise tobacco age now

To the editor:

The Lawrence City Commission should seriously consider immediately raising the age of sale of tobacco products to 21, bringing its policy into line with Douglas County, 22 other Kansas municipalities–as well as 459 localities in 29 states.

Nearly all smokers start before the age of 21, and we have a vaping epidemic in Lawrence high schools; just ask any student or teacher. The No. 1 source of tobacco products for underage youth is school friends who have already turned 18. Raising the age means that 18-year-old high schoolers will not be able to legally purchase cigarettes or vapes and turn around and provide them to their younger friends. The Institute of Medicine reviewed data on the impact of this policy and found that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 reduces the number of youth who start using tobacco products because they have no way to get them.

Most smokers say they wish they’d never started, for obvious reasons. Cigarettes cause one-third of all cancers and also one-third of all cancer deaths, and smoking is the top cause of heart and lung disease. The jury is still out on vaping, but remember: It took 50 years to determine the health effects of cigarettes. Groundbreaking research from the University of Kansas Medical Center finds vaping damages lung tissue in animal models and humans, and the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just announced hundreds of cases linking vaping with seizures and fatal lung illnesses. Tobacco 21 will shield teens and support schools.

Kimber Richter,



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