Thad Allender, The Lawrence Journal-World
In this Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002 file photo, a high school junior holds a cigarette as another high school student takes a drag in Lawrence, Kan.

After consideration of presentations made to Lehi City by the Utah County Health Department, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Utah Parent Teacher Association, we have become very concerned about the increased use and effects of tobacco and vaping products among our youth. Of particular concern is the method of distribution to high school- and junior high school-age students leading to the devastating health consequences of tobacco usage.

Although only 2 percent of tobacco products are purchased by those under the age of 21, those who purchase these products in that age group are supplying 90 percent of those under the age of 17. In other words, people under the age of 21 do not have a mature regard for the health and potential consequences of those in younger age groups.

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of premature death in America and tobacco industry documents show that those who start smoking by the age of 18 are almost twice as likely to become lifetime smokers as those who start after they turn 21. An overwhelming amount of evidence is available to show the negative consequences tobacco products have and the addictive effects of using tobacco products before the age of 21.

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Based on the evidence provided, Lehi City decided to act responsibly and curtail this supply of tobacco and vaping products to school age children by restricting these substance sales under the age of 21. We kindly encourage others, including our state representatives to consider similar action. 21 has long been the age associated with making wise decisions regarding addictive substances. It is also easy to verify this appropriate age through the current driver’s license format.

Lehi City encourages our state representatives to support the second substitute of HB324 that will enact similar reform statewide. We believe this is the most reasonable approach in combating this health crisis facing our families.