State Rep. Robert Foley (R-Wells) recently shared his opinion about Maine’s decision to join four other states in increasing the legal age of sale of tobacco to 21: as a cancer patient advocate, I couldn’t agree more with his support of this new law.

Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death nationwide and in Maine, and one-third of all cancer deaths are related to tobacco use. Raising the age of sale for tobacco products is a step toward saving lives, and restricting youth and young adult access to tobacco products can be a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce initiation and lifelong tobacco addiction.

Research shows that if a person does not begin smoking at a young age, they are much less likely to ever smoke. In fact, 95 percent of adults who smoke started smoking before the age of 21 and nearly 100 percent started by age 26. We can make a huge difference in the health of our state if we prevent  
youth from ever picking up a deadly tobacco addiction – and this new law is a step toward doing just that.

In 2017, it is estimated 8,750 Mainers will be diagnosed with cancer, and 3,260 will die from the disease.

I commend Rep. Foley, and his colleagues who supported an increase in the age of sale of tobacco to 21, because in doing so, they have shown their support of the future health of all Mainers.

Marguerite “Peggy” Belanger


American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer