By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Hartford City Council on Monday will vote on whether to raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes.
Currently the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco is 18. The American Lung Association is pushing to change that age to 21.
The goal is the change the law first in Hartford and hope it spreads to other towns in the state.
After a rally at city hall on Monday, the nine-member council heard overwhelming support for the idea of raising the age for tobacco purchase in an effort to prevent nicotine addiction.
Advocates said that about 95 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21 and become addicted as adults. By delaying the age when people begin using tobacco, it reduces the chance that they become lifelong tobacco users.
So far, six states and more than 350 cities have raised the age requirement to 21.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4,900 Connecticut residents will die from smoking-related causes this year. And more than 1,000 children are expected to become new daily smokers under the current law.
Earlier this year, advocates for raising the minimum age testified before a committee in the General Assembly, saying the annual health care costs directly caused by smoking are $2.03 billion and Medicaid costs are $520.8 million.
Raising the age to 21 has been proposed before the General Assembly several times but the measure has always failed.