The Douglas City Council voted July 12 to increase the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 years of age to 21 years of age, which is an initiative known as Tobacco 21 or T21. It is now the second community in Arizona and the first border community within Arizona to do so.

This initiative was brought to the Douglas City Council by the Cochise County Youth Health Coalition or “D-Crew” as they liked to be called. D-Crew is part of Students Taking A New Direction (STAND) which is a Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease initiative that works with youth coalitions around the state to advocate and educate their peers and community about the dangerous effects of smoking and second hand smoke.

STAND has 28 coalitions with 428 members throughout the state. Since its inception STAND members have worked with their communities to pass several policies aimed at reducing tobacco use among youth.  To highlight a few examples: 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties increased restrictions on tobacco use in public parks; Kingman voted to make smoking tobacco and e-cigarettes in cars with minors a secondary offense; and now Cottonwood and Douglas have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21 years old.

In addition to reducing the use and exposure to secondhand smoke among youth across Arizona, STAND members and STAND alumni have demonstrated strong leadership at the national level, including earning positions as AmeriCorps Members, receiving fellowships from the national TRUTH initiative, being selected by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to participate in their Youth Advocacy

Symposium, and being selected to serve on Governor Ducey’s Youth Commission.

We were recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of two national models for youth engagement. We’re proud of STAND’s achievement, both on the local tobacco control front and in promoting skills in civic leadership that will continue to benefit Arizonans for many years to come. Participation in STAND has also provided youth with other benefits such as experience for applications for college, scholarships, and employment.

Congratulations to the D-Crew on its success of Douglas adopting T21, and thank you for doing your part to protect the health and wellness of your community.