June 26, 2016

June 10, 2016

Tanzi, Welcome House, Jonnycake Center, host Capital Good Fund in Peace Dale

STATE HOUSE – Just days after a federal agency proposed long-awaited stricter limits on the payday lending industry, Rep. Teresa Tanzi brought the Capital Good Fund to South County to provide local residents with information about its small-dollar loans and other programs to build credit and avoid predatory lending traps.

The event, held at the Welcome House of South County June 6 and hosted by Representative Tanzi and the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, was free and open to the public, and gave attendees insight into the financial coaching and lending products the Capital Good Fund can provide to Rhode Islanders.

“It’s well documented that the payday lending industry baits the consumer with a 10-percent rate over two weeks, or a pay period, but the reality is they cannot pay back the loan in two weeks and more often than not, the 10 percent becomes a 260 percent annual percentage rate when it takes a year to payback. These ‘rollover’ loans become the debt trap that ensnares people already on the edge of poverty. While I’m glad there’s some movement toward regulatory change on the federal level, we have opportunities to make things better now in Rhode Island, and I’d like consumers to know that they have options. I’m very grateful to the Capital Good Fund for the alternative services and products it offers to help people manage financial emergencies and come out stronger, and for its staff’s willingness to come to South County and connect our residents to their valuable resources,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

The Capital Good Fund is a nonprofit, certified Community Development Financial Institution that takes a holistic approach to fighting poverty. In helping individuals with budgeting, credit building, debt management techniques, and one-on-one financial coaching, it helps clients achieve the credit necessary to cover emergencies and other costs such as car purchases or repairs, security deposits, computers or home weatherization and empowers them to actually get ahead of the next crisis.

At the event, Rachel Wall, Capital Good Fund’s director of coaching, told attendees about resources available to them to help them budget, stick to their budget and achieve financial goals, as well as about small-dollar loan products available through the Capital Good Fund at much more reasonable rates and terms than payday loans.

“Through our one-on-one financial coaching program, we educate Rhode Islanders on how to increase their financial stability and avoid predatory financial services,” said Wall. “We will continue to collaborate with our southern Rhode Island partners to ensure that our loans and financial coaching program are accessible throughout the state.”

Representative Tanzi said the fund’s products to assist with car repairs and purchases are probably particularly useful for the people of South County, where, unfortunately, there is very little public transit available to help those without cars get to work, school or to run errands for their family.

The events sponsors said they were grateful to the Capital Good Fund for coming to town for the event and for the help it can provide to local residents.

“We are excited to have the Capital Good Fund in town to educate local residents about financial products and coaching opportunities that might help them build a bridge to economic security,” said Kate Brewster, executive director of the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale.

Said Joseph Dziobek, Welcome House’s executive director, “The Capital Good Fund can play an important role in ending homelessness by giving individuals an option to the predatory loan industry which some of our shelter guests have fallen victim to.  Getting out of debt is of major concern to shelter guests and this program with its coaching component and manageable interest rates provides a viable first step.”

For more information about the Capital Good Fund, visit www.capitalgoodfund.org

IN PHOTO: Rep. Teresa Tanzi, right, with Welcome House Executive Director Joseph Dziobek at an event this week when the Capital Good Fund visited the House to inform local residents about the services it offers. 

June 3, 2016

House passes Tanzi biliteracy seal legislation

STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives voted today to approve legislation sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi to create a “biliteracy seal” that school districts could affix to the diplomas and transcripts of high school graduates who demonstrate proficiency in another language in addition to English.

The legislation is meant to recognize students who have achieved high levels of proficiency in multiple languages, encourage more to do so and help employers identify job applicants who have the sought-after skill of communicating in multiple languages.

“Knowing more than one language is a skill that is growing more useful every day as our society increasingly becomes more global. Employers in the 21st century need employees who can communicate with their customers and contacts in languages besides English, so we should be encouraging students to pursue proficiency in multiple languages. A biliteracy seal is both a distinction for the student who achieves that goal, and a way to assist employers in finding employees in Rhode Island who can offer them the sought-after skill of multilingualism,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

The legislation (2016-H 8178) would allow school districts to place a seal on the diplomas and transcripts of graduates have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in another language in addition to English. The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education would create standards by which that high level of proficiency would be measured, such as the completion of units in English and another language and/or scores on assessments in English and other languages. All modern and native languages, Latin and American Sign Language would be considered qualified foreign languages under the bill. School districts’ participation would be voluntary, and no charge to the student would be allowed.

The seal would emphasize the increasing importance of learning other languages to students whose native language is English. It would also serve as an incentive for students whose first language was one other than English not merely to maintain their first language as they learn English, but to ensure they perfect their command of it in spoken and written form so that they qualify as “highly proficient.”

Representative Tanzi, whose own South Kingstown school district offers a bilingual immersion education beginning in kindergarten at two elementary schools, said schools in Rhode Island and across America should encourage students to take their foreign language requirements seriously and make more of an effort to become truly fluent in at least one foreign language.

“Knowing another language well is a tremendous advantage in many situations, improves a job applicant’s chances of getting hired, and can open doors for people in many ways. And the younger a person begins learning another language, the better, since the brain is wired to absorb language most quickly during childhood. Anything we can do to encourage students to be fluent in other languages in addition to English is beneficial,” she said.

The bill is supported by the Department of Education. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar legislation, and other states have pending legislation, including Massachusetts and Connecticut. There is currently a Seal of Biliteracy Working Group working with Central Falls to pilot the awarding of a district-level seal to qualified candidates in the 2016 graduating class, which will serve as a model for the state if this legislation is enacted.

“The Rhode Island public, as well as leaders in business, government, and education have called for programs that develop bilingualism and biliteracy for all learners for social, academic and economic purposes. The Rhode Island Seal of Biliteracy allows us to officially recognize the wealth of linguistic skills present in our community, including the many languages students bring from home and those learned in school, and to encourage further development of those languages in post-secondary pursuits,” said Erin Papa, director of the Rhode Island Roadmap to Language Excellence Initiative and past president of the Rhode Island Foreign Language Association.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) and Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), will now go to the Senate, where Sen. Juan M. Pichardo (D-Dist. 2, Providence) is sponsoring its Senate companion (2016-S 2735).

June 1, 2016

Tanzi invites residents to Capital Good Fund event

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi invites South County residents to an event at Welcome House next week to introduce them to financial and educational services available to them from the Capital Good Fund.

The event, which she spearheaded, is being held at the Welcome House and cohosted by the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, is scheduled Monday, June 6, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Welcome House, 8 North Road, Peace Dale. It is free and open to the public.

“Many people find themselves in crisis from time to time, whether it is medical or personal, and need money quickly to get them through the difficulty. Unfortunately, those at the lower end of the economic scale are only able to access credit from a small sector of the banking industry that often takes advantage of them. Payday loans can quickly trap the recipients in a downward spiral of taking out loan after loan because the original crisis has knocked them off their financial footing.  These predatory loans have the promise of help, but come with astronomical interest rates. People need to know that there are some alternatives, and I am so excited to be the catalyst for bringing the Capital Good Fund to South County to offer residents financial products and educational services that will help them get on more stable economic ground,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

The event is meant to provide information about the resources the Capital Good Fund offers to Rhode Islanders to help them with small dollar loans not typically offered at traditional banks, manage their debt and improve their credit. The Capital Good Fund is a nonprofit, certified Community Development Financial Institution that takes a holistic approach to fighting poverty. In helping individuals with budgeting, credit building, debt management techniques, and one-on-one financial coaching, it helps clients achieve the credit necessary to cover emergencies and other costs such as car purchases or repairs, security deposits, computers or home weatherization and empowers them to actually get ahead of the next crisis.

For more information on the Capital Good fund, visit www.capitalgoodfund.org

May 23, 2016

House OKs legislation to allow limited retail sales by breweries

Rep Tanzi and Rep Fogarty with two of South Kingstown's finest- Andy Tran from Whaler's Brewing Co. and Josh Karten from Proclamation Ale Co.

STATE HOUSE – Legislation cosponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi to allow breweries, distilleries and wineries to sell limited amounts of their products to visitors for sampling and off-site consumption has passed the House of Representatives.

The bill is intended to assist microbreweries, in particular, which are banned entirely from selling their products at retail at their plants under current law, but would like to do so to be part of the growing “beer tourism” industry.

“Microbreweries are a growing sector in Rhode Island, and we should give these hardworking small businesses the opportunity they need to get their products into the hands of consumers, who have been asking us for increased access. Many don’t realize the value these small manufacturers add to our economy, and increased sales will equal more revenue and more hiring locally,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

The legislation (2016-H 8100Aaa), whose primary sponsor is Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket),  allows breweries, wineries and distillers to sell up to 288 ounces per day at retail to each visitor for consumption off the premises, in containers no larger than 72 ounces each. Additionally, it would enable them to sell up to 72 ounces per person per day to each visitor for consumption on the premises, allowing visitors to sample their products before purchasing. The limits are designed to allow visitors to take home up to the equivalent of four six-packs of 12-ounce bottles, while also accommodating growlers, the larger jugs popular among craft beer aficionados.

Andy Tran, owner and founder of Whaler’s Brewing in Wakefield, said, “The bill is a step forward for modern small business regulation. It helps both Whalers and Rhode Island finally grow and be competitive in this dynamic industry.”

Legislators worked with local brewers to develop the legislation, including Dorian Rave, the owner of Ravenous Brewing Company in Woonsocket.

Rave said being able to let visitors sample and leave with his products is critical to building his brand, and without that ability, it’s hard to attract visitors and spread awareness of his company.

“We’re a little off the beaten path in Woonsocket, and this gives people a reason to visit. It gives us the opportunity to provide samples and let the public try our product to increase knowledge of it,” said Rave. “It also levels the playing field, since we’re surrounded by states that already allow it.”

Brent Ryan, the owner of Newport Storm Brewery and president of the Rhode Island Brewers Guild said tremendous growth of the beer tourism industry over the last decade has helped small breweries develop a following, and Rhode Island should help its brewers take part.

“Changing the rules, encouraging visitation, helps us get our brands out. These are small companies that don’t have big marketing budgets,” he said.

The bill passed the House May 19, and has been transferred to the Senate. Other cosponsors include Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) and Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown).

In photo: Representatives Teresa Tanzi, second from left, and Kathleen Fogarty host Andy Tran, left, of Whaler’s Brewing Compan, and Joshua Karten of Proclamation Brewing Company, who visited the State House on May 19 to watch the House pass legislation that will assist microbrewers.

May 20, 2016

Issue briefs bolster argument for reining in youth tobacco access, e-cigarettes, says Tanzi



STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi urged fellow lawmakers to support stronger measures aimed at reducing youth tobacco use today, as the Rhode Island Public Health Association released issue briefs showing overall tobacco use and the popularity of e-cigarettes are both on the rise among Rhode Island youth.

“Clearly, we must do more to prevent adolescents from becoming hooked on tobacco products, or we risk losing some of the gains we’ve made in reducing smoking in recent years. The data shows us that we can’t concentrate only on cigarettes, because the industry has shrewdly turned its focus on other products, particularly e-cigarettes, promoting them as a safer alternative,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “Anti-smoking initiatives need to keep pace with the changing industry and its efforts to hook young people. The overwhelming majority of tobacco users start young, and public health efforts need to be targeted at the products they’re using to protect new generations of Rhode Islanders from the lethal effects of lifelong tobacco use.”

The briefs, which were released today at a State House event with a panel discussion that included Representative Tanzi, Sen. Joshua Miller, Erin Boles Welsh of the Rhode Island Department of Health Tobacco Program and Jennifer Wall of Tobacco Free Rhode Island, show that e-cigarettes were the mostly commonly used tobacco product among Rhode Island high school students in 2015, with 19.3 percent of respondents the National Youth Tobacco Survey saying they currently used them. The same survey showed 4.8 percent of respondents reported currently smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Without stringent public health laws governing the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems the marketplace is vulnerable for middle school and high school consumption,” said the brief on youth tobacco use.

“Many Rhode Islanders, including many of our legislators don’t realize that tobacco use among youth is increasing. Most of that increase is directly due to use of eCigarettes,” said Dr. Patricia Risica, advocacy chairperson of RIPHA, who facilitated the panel discussion.

Representative Tanzi has introduced legislation aimed at both reducing youth tobacco youth overall, and at reining in the use of electronic nicotine systems. Her bills would raise the minimum age to purchase all tobacco products in Rhode Island from 18 to 21 (2016-H 7737), and prohibit the use of electronic nicotine-delivery system products in enclosed public places and enclosed facilities within places of employment (2016-H 7664).

She said while the briefs contain some glimmers of hope — that Rhode Island has the third-lowest youth smoking rate in the county — they also provide ample evidence to demonstrate that more needs to be done to prevent Rhode Island youth from becoming addicted to tobacco products.

“Every year, 700 more Rhode Island children become daily smokers. Most will smoke for years if not their entire lives, putting them at much higher risk for serious illness, poor overall health and shorter lives. We should not settle for this status quo, which costs lives and a tremendous amount of preventable health care costs year after year,” said Representative Tanzi.

May 17, 2016

Tanzi named 2016 Earth Day Champion

 Rep. Teresa Tanzi with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse at Clean Water Action’s annual Breakfast of Champions, where she was honored for her sponsorship of successful legislation to phase out cesspools throughout Rhode Island.

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi has been honored by Clean Water Action for her sponsorship of law passed last year to phase out cesspools throughout Rhode Island.

Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) received the organization’s Earth Day Champion award last week at its annual Breakfast of Champions.

Representative Tanzi was chosen for the award after many years of sponsoring legislation to amend the Rhode Island Cesspool Act of 2007, which required the phase-out of cesspools located within 200 feet of a shoreline, wetland or drinking water supply. The bill (2016-H 5668A), which passed the General Assembly and became law last year, provides for the eventual removal of all cesspools beyond the previously set boundaries. It requires that any cesspool be replaced upon the sale or transfer of the property where the cesspool is located.

“Since her election in 2010, Representative Tanzi has proven herself to be a leader on environmental issues in the General Assembly. Clean Water Action is fortunate to count her as a legislative ally, and we are proud to recognize her as a Champion this year. The work she has done toward phasing out the use of cesspools in our state will undoubtedly improve the water quality of our rivers, lakes, streams, and Narragansett Bay, and enhance the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders,” said Johnathan Berard, Rhode Island state director for Clean Water Action.

May 15, 2016

Tanzi addresses rally supporting her bill to keep guns out of hands of domestic abusers

STATE HOUSE – Domestic abuse victims in Rhode Island need and deserve better protection from armed abusers, Rep. Teresa Tanzi told a crowd of supporters at a Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence rally at the State House last week.

“We have a problem in Rhode Island: It is far too easy for dangerous domestic abusers to access guns,” she said. “We know that when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, a woman is five times more likely to be killed. In fact, more than half of American women murdered by guns are killed by intimate partners or family members.”

Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) is the sponsor of legislation (2016-H 7575) that would require anyone convicted of a domestic abuse misdemeanor and anyone subject to a domestic abuse protective order to surrender any firearms they have and would prohibit those abusers from acquiring more. The rally was organized as a show of support for that legislation, a related bill sponsored by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) and legislation to prohibit possession of guns on school grounds.

Representative Tanzi spoke in support of protecting victims of domestic violence, and noted that Rhode Island is “falling behind the rest of the country” in terms of enacting common-sense gun measures that protect its citizens.

“Twenty-six other states, including our neighbors Connecticut and Massachusetts, have addressed this issue and closed important loopholes related to domestic violence and guns,” she said. “We know that this is sound public policy that will protect women and families, and does nothing to limit the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Currently, courts may order those subject to domestic abuse protective orders to surrender guns, but are not required to do so. Between 2002 and 2014, 1,609 protective orders were granted in Rhode Island, and judges ordered abusers to surrender weapons in only 5 percent of those cases.

Representative Tanzi’s legislation would require abusers to surrender firearms at the time of their convictions, and temporarily surrender them upon the granting of a domestic abuse protective order. She noted that the change would bring Rhode Island law in line with existing federal law, and further protect victims by requiring the surrender of firearms the abuser already owns – a loophole that federal law does not currently address.

“I will continue to fight for you — and for Rhode Island children, women and families — until we pass these vital pieces of legislation,” she told supporters at the rally.

IN PHOTO: Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) addresses supporters at a Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence rally last week.

May 13, 2016

Tanzi bill to raise tobacco age to 21 heard

STATE HOUSE – The House Finance Committee recently held a hearing on legislation sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Rhode Island from 18 to 21.

The legislation (2016-H 7737) would apply to all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, and would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

If passed, Rhode Island would become the second state to adopt 21 as the minimum age for tobacco purchases, after Hawaii, which enacted the change last year. Boston, New York City and 120 other municipalities across the country, including 80 in Massachusetts alone, have adopted local ordinances raising their tobacco purchase age to 21. Similar legislation (2016-S 2410) is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).

“Data tells us that 9 out of 10 adult smokers began smoking before age 21. Reducing youth access to tobacco products will lower tobacco addiction and reduce tobacco-related death and disease. Raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 will benefit the individual and society as a whole,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), who also introduced the legislation last year.  “Less smoking means fewer of the related health problems that drive up health care costs for individuals, businesses that pay for employees’ insurance, and the public, which subsidizes health care for some. It means families aren’t spending money on tobacco, and can spend it on goods and services locally. It’s an important step toward a healthier Rhode Island.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence, and therefore preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States, which is responsible for the deaths of 480,000 Americans annually. In Rhode Island, 1,800 adults die each year from their own smoking, and the state’s annual health care costs due to smoking are $639,604,224.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 80 percent of all adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18; and approximately 95 percent of all adult smokers began smoking before age 21.

Last year, a report by the Institute of Medicine for the Food and Drug Administration estimated that raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21 nationwide would result in a 25-percent reduction in youth smoking initiation, a 12-percent reduction in smoking rates overall, and 16,000 fewer preterm or low birth weight births in the first five years of the policy. The report estimated that such a policy throughout the United States would prevent 4.2 million years of life lost to smoking in children alive today. In another study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that 75 percent of adults favor raising the tobacco age to 21, including 70 percent of smokers and 65 percent of those age 18 to 24.

The bill has the support of health advocates in Rhode Island and nationwide, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse last year cosponsored federal legislation to raise age to 21 nationwide.

For the first time in decades, in 2014 overall nicotine and tobacco use increased among U.S. high school students. This is almost entirely due to an explosion in teen use of e-cigarettes, hookahs and vaping. Current e-cigarette use among middle and high school students has tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products. This is the first time since the survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011 that current e-cigarette use has surpassed use of every other tobacco product, including conventional cigarettes.

March 4, 2016

Tanzi introduces bill to raise tobacco purchase age to 21, save lives

STATE HOUSE – Saying the state must do more to address smoking as the serious threat to public health that it is, Rep. Teresa Tanzi has introduced legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Rhode Island from 18 to 21.

The legislation ( 2016-H 7737) would apply to all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, and would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

If passed, Rhode Island would become the second state to adopt 21 as the minimum age for tobacco purchases, after Hawaii, which enacted the change last year. Boston, New York City and 120 other municipalities across the country, including 80 in Massachusetts alone, have adopted local ordinances raising their tobacco purchase age to 21.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence, and therefore preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States, which is responsible for the deaths of 480,000 Americans annually. In Rhode Island, 1,800 adults die each year from their own smoking, and the state’s annual health care costs due to smoking are $639,604,224.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 80 percent of all adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18; and approximately 95 percent of all adult smokers began smoking before age 21.

Last year, a report by the Institute of Medicine for the Food and Drug Administration estimated that raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21 nationwide would result in a 25-percent reduction in youth smoking initiation, a 12-percent reduction in smoking rates overall, and 16,000 fewer preterm or low birth weight births in the first five years of the policy. The report estimated that such a policy throughout the United States would prevent 4.2 million years of life lost to smoking in children alive today. In another study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that 75 percent of adults favor raising the tobacco age to 21, including 70 percent of smokers and 65 percent of those age 18 to 24.

The bill’s sponsors point to success in reducing youth smoking in communities that adopt higher age restrictions, and the positive effect that less smoking would have on Rhode Islanders’ health as well as public and private health care costs.

“Data tells us that 9 out of 10 adult smokers began smoking before age 21. Reducing youth access to tobacco products will lower tobacco addiction and reduce tobacco-related death and disease. Raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 will benefit the individual and society as a whole,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), who also introduced the legislation last year. “Reducing opportunity and likelihood for addiction has obvious health benefits for that individual, as well as financial benefits for him or her and the family they might have in the future. But it also has health and financial benefits for society at large. Less smoking means fewer of the related health problems that drive up health care costs for individuals, businesses that pay for employees’ insurance, and the public, which subsidizes health care for some. It means families aren’t spending money on tobacco, and can spend it on goods and services locally. And it would eliminate it from schools entirely, which cuts down on the pressures that lure many into the habit in the first place. It’s an important step toward a healthier Rhode Island.”

Changing the tobacco purchase age to 21 has the support of health advocates in Rhode Island and nationwide, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse last year cosponsored federal legislation to raise age to 21 nationwide.

“Raising the age of tobacco purchase from 18 to 21 will further lower smoking rates and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We applaud Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Senator Cynthia Coyne for introducing this common sense legislation which has the potential to save many lives. We hope Rhode Island legislators will act swiftly on this bill so that Rhode Island can become the next state with a Tobacco 21 law on the books.”

“By raising the tobacco sale age to 21, Rhode Island can set a great example for the nation that will save lives and health care dollars and help make the next generation tobacco-free,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We know that 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, and ages 18 to 21 are critical years when young people transition from experimenting with tobacco to becoming regular users. By enacting this legislation, Rhode Island will reduce smoking and protect young people from this deadly addiction.”

For the first time in decades, in 2014 overall nicotine and tobacco use increased among U.S. high school students. This is almost entirely due to an explosion in teen use of e-cigarettes, hookahs and vaping. Current e-cigarette use among middle and high school students has tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products. This is the first time since the survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011 that current e-cigarette use has surpassed use of every other tobacco product, including conventional cigarettes.