Governor Vetoes Bill to Raise Smoking Age to 21

303

The American Cancer Society, meanwhile, says they are disappointed in the governor’s decision.

Guam – Governor Eddie Calvo made an eleventh hour veto on the bill that proposes to raise the legal smoking age on Guam to 21.

In a release, Governor Calvo says although the measure was well intentioned, Bill 141 “constitutes a willful intrusion into the personal lives and choices of our citizens.

Governor Calvo also says that the bill is vague and unenforceable because it fails to address how it will apply to military bases and service members where the legal smoking age remains 18.

Instead of a legislative process, Governor Calvo suggests that social issues such as raising the smoking age should be put through a referendum process.

The governor also points out the contradiction in prohibiting young adults from being able to purchase cigarettes, saying “I feel strongly that the government is not a nanny and the 15 senators who make up the legislature do not have the prerogative to tell thousands of Guamanians old enough to give their life to the military service, vote, marry, have children, or sign legally binding contracts that they can’t buy a pack of cigarettes.”

The American Cancer Society also released a statement today saying they are disappointed in the governor’s decision to veto the measure. You can read their statement below:

HAGATNA, GUAM – July 1, 2016 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is disappointed Governor Eddie Calvo vetoed Bill 141-33 (the Youth Protection Act of 2017),  legislation to raise the age of sale for tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, from 18 to 21. Cathy Rivera Castro, ACS CAN volunteer, released the following statement:

 

“This legislation has come a long way since first being introduced in 2015, and we believe it would have made a difference in the lives of our youth by helping to spare them a lifetime of addiction and further reduce the use of tobacco and, thus, tobacco-related disease and death in Guam.  Thank you to all of our partners and youth organizations for helping to educate the Guam community about the merits of this bill.  Although Governor Calvo missed an opportunity to approve this lifesaving measure, we will continue to work with him and his administration on public policies that can reduce the burden of cancer on Guam.”

 

Tobacco remains the number one preventable cause of cancer in Guam. While smoking rates have dropped over the last few years, Guam’s smoking rate of 26.5 percent is significantly higher than the national average of 17.8 percent.

 

ACS CAN supports the effectiveness of tobacco control strategies in reducing tobacco initiation and use among youth and young adults.

 

You can also read Vice Speaker BJ Cruz’s statement below:

 

(Hagåtña, Guam) Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz issued the following statement in reaction to Governor Eddie Baza Calvo’s veto of Bill No. 141-33 (COR):
 
“Big Tobacco companies are the most lethal drug dealers on the planet. And Governor Calvo’s veto of a bill supported by physicians, public health professionals, and our island’s youth gave these companies a license to keep on killing.
 
Cigarettes turn choice into a lifelong addiction funded by taxpayers—many of whom never smoked a day in their lives.  When it costs forty times more to treat a smoker than a nonsmoker, it isn’t about choice. It’s about saving lives, saving dollars, and saving valuable public resources.
 
In the days and weeks ahead, I pray we find a tenth vote. So many lives are depending on it.”