ST. LOUIS, Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mayor Francis Slay took a major step last week in protecting St. Louis youth by signing Tobacco 21, thereby raising the minimum legal sale age of all tobacco products from 18 to 21 in St. Louis City. With the signing of this bill, the City of St. Louis joins St. Louis County in implementing this lifesaving policy, now covering an estimated population of more than 1.3 million. "We applaud Mayor Francis Slay and Alderwoman Dionne Flowers for their leadership on this issue and the other board members who voted for this strong step to reduce tobacco use," said Karen Englert,Missouri's Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association."It is also important to salute St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, Councilman Sam Page and other council members who took the same important action only a few months ago. As a result of both bills, countless St. Louis area youth will be saved from the deadly dangers posed by tobacco products." Research shows that when enacted, Tobacco 21 will save lives and lower health care costs. Since a large majority of smokers start before the age of 21, a report by the Institute of Medicine found that raising the minimum legal sale age of all tobacco products to 21 years, including for e-cigarettes and vapor products, would reduce the initiation of smoking by as much as 25 percent in young teens. The City of St. Louis becomes the 10th Missouri community or county to be covered by Tobacco 21. About the American Heart Association & the American Stroke Association:The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke - the two leading causes of death in the world. We team up with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org. In St. Louis, you may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.