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From Class Assignment to Law: Tobacco21 in St. Louis County

In a huge win for evidence-based public health, the St. Louis County Council last week passed a bill known as Tobacco21, which restricts the sale of all tobacco products to persons age 21 and older.

The back story of this law–which along with similar measures in six other cities covers one-third of Missourians–has a strong SLU connection. Dr. Philip Abraham, a student in Dr. Kimberly Enard's Health Policy course, developed a policy brief about this issue for a class assignment. He brought it to the attention of Councilman Sam Page, who worked to bring a bill forward for consideration.

Dr. Philip AbrahamDr. Abraham (pictured left, along with a supporter) is a pediatric hospitalist at Washington University School of Medicine, and was instrumental in lining up the support of a number of prominent St. Louis institutions and individuals, including SLUCare pediatrician Matt Broom and Health Management and Policy faculty member Kevin Broom, both of whom spoke to the County Council in support of the bill.

"I enrolled in a Master's of Health Administration program at SLU because I wanted to learn ways in how we can increase better access to healthcare, while also cutting costs," said Abraham. "I researched about Tobacco 21 for a project [in Dr. Enard's health policy class] and I figured, why not bring this to St. Louis? Not only would this affect my patient population but it can reduce the long term prevalence of tobacco related illness in the long run and promote a healthier community."

CPHSJ Communications
Published: September 15, 2016