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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health — a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM — that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The prevention of health problems among young persons would improve significantly if the legal sale of tobacco products switched from age 18 to 21 in the U.S., finds a perspective recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The perspective suggests if the sale of tobacco products was delayed three years there would be 249,000 fewer premature deaths, 45,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer and 4.2 million fewer lost-life years among Americans born between 2010 and 2019. The effort to delay legal sales of tobacco products from age 18 to 21 is often called Tobacco 21 laws.
The perspective adds other health benefits would grow over time especially as young persons reach child bearing age. The three authors write (and we quote): 'by 2100 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) projected 286,000 fewer preterm births among mothers 15 to 49 years of age, 438,000 fewer low-birth-weight babies, and 4000 fewer cases of sudden infant death syndrome' (end of quote).
The authors explain a delayed sale of tobacco products from age 18 to 21 also impacts a generation of teens who are younger than 18. The authors add (and we quote): 'Nearly everyone who buys cigarettes for minors in the United States is under 21 years of age; raising the sale age prevents high school students from buying tobacco products for their peers' (end of quote).
Moreover, the authors note some recent evidence strongly suggests an array of additional health benefits to delaying the sale of tobacco products. For example, a recent study in Needham, MA suggested tobacco 21 laws result in a 47 percent reduction in smoking rates among area high school students as well as a decline in area retail tobacco purchases.
A 2015 IOM study suggests tobacco 21 laws lead to a 12 percent decline in smoking prevalence. Moreover, the largest decreases occur in the intended audience, teens who are 15-17 years old as well as other adolescents.
The perspective's three authors note among the medical organizations that support Tobacco 21 laws are: The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association.
The authors conclude recent research suggests tobacco 21 laws (and we quote): 'are effective, enjoy very high levels of public support, and have minimal economic impact in the short term' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, a guide to preventing teen smoking (from the U.S. Surgeon General) is available in the 'prevention and risk factors' section of MedlinePlus.gov's smoking and youth health topic page. The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research provides a guide to what you need to know about teen smoking also within the 'prevention and risk factors' section of MedlinePlus.gov's smoking and youth health topic page.
A well written guide about the dangers of smoking especially written for teens (provided by the Nemours Foundation) is available in the 'teenagers' section of MedlinePlus.gov's smoking and youth health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's smoking and youth health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about smoking and teens as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's smoking and youth health topic page, please type 'teen smoking' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'smoking and youth (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to smokeless tobacco, E-cigarettes, and quitting smoking.
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