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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

SFMS Endorses San Francisco's Tobacco 21 Ordinance

Supervisor Scott Weiner’s proposed Tobacco 21 ordinance will be up for consideration by the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today. If approved, San Francisco would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

The San Francisco Medical Society, representing 1,800 San Francisco physicians and physicians-in-training, strongly endorses the proposal to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone aged 18 to 20, effectively raising the legal age to 21 (amending Health Code Sec.19H.14-1).

Long experience and much research indicates that perhaps the most important preventive goal with regard to decreasing tobacco use is to delay the onset of use as long as possible – for it is clear that the vast majority of tobacco users, at least 80%, start before 21 and that if such use can be prevented, the young adults are unlikely to start. This is why the tobacco industry has long concentrated its marketing on this demographic, and why they have so vehemently opposed raising the age of legal purchase.

Numerous states are proposing to raise the legal age for tobacco purchase to 21, and Hawaii has recently done so. San Francisco has long been a leader in the battle against tobacco use and addiction, and we would hope to remain in a leadership position. The welcome inclusion of e-cigarettes in this proposal affords our city the opportunity to again be on the forefront of one of the most important efforts in public health and medicine, and we urge every San Francisco leader to support it for the health of all San Franciscans.

Click here to view the details of the proposed ordinance.

Click here to view the SFMS letter of support submitted to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Click here to view the 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: Progress Toward a Healthier Nation.

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