Press Release

Public and Private Sector Experts to Brief Congress on Need to Raise Tobacco Sale Age to 21

April 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2016                 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)/Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), Trinity Health, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, will host a congressional briefing exploring initiatives across the country – as well as bills in Congress – to raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. Hawaii has enacted a statewide “Tobacco 21” law raising the tobacco age, and at least 135 jurisdictions in nine states have also done so, including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland and both Kansas Cities. California’s Tobacco 21 bill awaits the governor’s signature. The briefing aims to connect members of Congress and their staffs with local lawmakers, legislative staff, and respected opinion leaders on the topic of smoking and its effect on our country’s citizens and communities. 

Some 95 percent of adult smokers started before they were 21, demonstrating the critical importance of keeping young people from ever starting. A March 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that raising the tobacco sale age to 21 will have a dramatic impact on public health and save lives.  The report showed that raising the tobacco age to 21 will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking and over time will reduce adult smoking by about 12 percent.

At the briefing, public health officials and members of the business community will explain why their cities passed Tobacco 21, how the laws are impacting residents, and their promise to reduce health care costs. The event will be open to the press.

WHAT: Tobacco 21: Raise the Age to Save Lives, a Congressional Briefing

WHEN: Thursday, April 14, 2016, 9:30AM – 10:30AM ET

WHERE: U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room 203-02


·      Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

o   The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a non-profit that fights to reduce tobacco use in the United States and around the world.

·      Bechara Choucair, M.D., Senior Vice President, Safety Net and Community Health, Trinity Health

o   Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 21 states with 90 hospitals and 120 continuing care locations. The system recently announced it will invest $80 million over the next five years to improve public health, with a particular focus on tobacco use.

·      Scott Hall, MBA, J.D.,Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

o   Kansas City recently passed an ordinance to raise the age of purchase to 21 following a successful campaign by Healthy KC, a partnership that includes the Chamber of Commerce and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

·      Sonia Angell, M.D., MPH, Deputy Commissioner for Prevention and Primary Care, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

o   The Tobacco 21 law has been in effect in New York City for one year.  

CONTACT: Max Mays or 913-233-6830 


About the Big Cities Health Coalition

The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact nearly 62 million people, or one in five Americans. For more information, visit

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is the national non-profit association representing the approximately 2,800 local health departments (LHDs) in the United States, including city, county, metro, district, and tribal agencies. NACCHO’s vision is health, equity, and security for all people in their communities through public health policies and services. NACCHO’s mission is to be a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for local health departments in order to ensure the conditions that promote health and equity, combat disease, and improve the quality and length of all lives.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Its vision is a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 21 states with 90 hospitals, 124 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $15.8 billion and assets of $20.4 billion, the organization returns about $1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 95,000 full-time employees, including 3,900 employed physicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country’s aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit You can also follow @TrinityHealthMI on Twitter.