February was National Heart Month. Legislation is on the table that would protect Washington hearts by limiting youth access to tobacco.
The op-ed on Jan. 31, “Time to raise state tobacco sale age to 21,” offers a compelling argument that the Washington Chapter of the American College of Cardiology urges lawmakers to hear. As an organization of over 600 cardiovascular caregivers across Washington state, we see the devastating effects of tobacco-related illness—including heart disease—on our patients and their families every day.
Tobacco-related illness costs Washingtonians more than just our loved ones; it also costs us more than $2.8 billion each year. The worst part-these deaths and costs are entirely preventable.
As the op-ed points out, smoking is on the rise among Washington kids—an alarming fact for those of us working to prevent heart disease. The fact that students still in high school can access tobacco contributes to this trend. Additionally, smoking behaviors typically develop during adolescence. We must end the access to tobacco of 18-20 years old in order to reduce the sober costs of tobacco use in our state.
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As healthcare providers for patients throughout Washington, we call on lawmakers to say yes to Tobacco 21 legislation this month.
Member of the American College of Cardiology, Washington Chapter