Chamber staff joined key community and business leaders on Monday to learn more about the City of San Antonio Tobacco 21 initiative. The City’s Metropolitan Health District is leading the effort which urges City Council to adopt an ordinance raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The proposed policy is aimed at reducing the number of youth who smoke or will begin smoking and keep all tobacco products out of the hands of children attending high school. The Institute of Medicine concluded that increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 will reduce the smoking rate by 12%.
The Tobacco 21 initiative includes a community engagement effort to inform residents and businesses about the public health benefits of adopting the policy in San Antonio and how the city plans to enforce it. Military leaders have also been actively taking steps to reduce tobacco use. General Robert Magnus, Assistant Commander of the Marine Corps, has stated, “Tobacco impairs reaction time and judgement. It stands in the way of a Marine’s number one priority: to be in the top physical and mental shape – combat ready.”
The policy is geared toward prohibiting the sale of tobacco products, more so than the purchase. Currently, there are 270 cities in 18 states across the U.S. that have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, including: Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine. If passed by City Council, San Antonio would be the first city in Texas to adopt such a policy.
The Metro Health District conducted a recent survey in which “77.5% out of the 5,447 respondents said they are in favor of raising the minimum tobacco sales age to 21.” Given the results, a formal proposal was made by Metro Health and presented at last month’s Community Health and Equity Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Sandoval.
The timeline includes a presentation to City Council at B-Session on December 6 and at A-session on December 14.
San Antonio Metropolitan Health District will continue its outreach efforts in order to further engage key stakeholders and seek public input. A Town Hall is scheduled this Thursday, November 16 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the La Orilladel Rio Ballroom located at 203 S. St. Mary’s Street, Suite 385, San Antonio, TX 78205. We encourage you to attend and share your thoughts.
To learn more about this initiative, visit www.sanantonio.gov/Health/HealthyLiving/Smoking