By Tanya Basu
July 7, 2015

Three out of every four American adults favor increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The study, released by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Tuesday, also found that smokers overwhelmingly agreed; 7 of 10 cigarette smokers backed raising the minimum age.

Brian King, acting deputy director for research translation at the Center for Disease Control’s Office on Smoking and Health, highlighted the health benefits that could come from such an increase. “It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit.”

Most states require tobacco purchases to be made by someone who is at least 18; in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, and Utah, the minimum age is 19. Hawaii, however, already has a must-be-21 to purchase tobacco rule in place.

The data came from a 2014 online survey of 4,219 adults over 18. A separate study earlier this year found that if the all states were to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21, there would be a 12% decrease in smokers along with 250,000 fewer premature deaths.

Write to Tanya Basu at tanya.basu@time.com.

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