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Health Experts Push Michigan To Raise Smoking Age To 21

Cigarettes on ash tray

Some health advocates want to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases.

Right now, insurance companies in Michigan can make cancer patients pay more out of pocket for oral chemotherapy drugs than they do for intravenous drugs.

Andrew Schepers is with the American Cancer Society.

“We want to level the playing field in all pharmaceutical treatment types in cancer patients," said Schepers.

Schepers also said they also want lawmakers to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. He said this will reduce the number of people addicted to nicotine.

“We have the opportunity to essentially pull them away from ever using a tobacco product which gives us healthier people at the end of the day," said Schepers. 

The American Cancer Society says that, nationally, 95-percent of adults who smoke start before they turn 21.

Schepers said one big complaint they hear about the proposed change is that the Legislature shouldn’t tell insurance companies how to do their business.

“We look at that and say well the Legislature already told the insurance companies that you have to cover cancer drugs already," said Schepers. "ow we’re just asking that they do that in a fair manner.”

Schepers says they’re mainly working with a Republican Representative to draft legislation.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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