This week, Oregon became the fifth state to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21. The other states are Hawaii, California, New Jersey, and Maine.
Under the Oregon bill signed by Governor Kate Brown, merchants who sell tobacco and tobacco products to anyone under 21 will face fines from $50 up to $1,000.
Rob Crane, President of Tobacco21, which advocates raising the tobacco age to 21 says that raising the age will prevent many people from becoming addicted at a younger age. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 20.
“We are programmed as adolescents to try new things, which is a perfect recipe for dangerous things.”
Advocates argue that raising the smoking age will curb smoking. A suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, raised the age to 21 and found that the amount of teenage smoking went down by half, according to a study published in Tobacco Control.
A study published in the Institute of Medicine found that raising the age to 21 nationwide would reduce adult smoking by 12 percent by the time today’s teens have grown up. This is likely because teens are less likely to be in the same social networks as people over the age of 21.
Not everyone is sold on the idea. Alex Clark, the Executive Director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, who advocates for e-cigarettes and other smoke-free alternatives, says the raising the age to 21 will create “black market activity.” People under 21 would just seek out other tobacco sources, he says.
Even so, one vaping company, JUUL Labs, has backed the age restrictions. The CEO of the company, Tyler Goldman, told TIME Magazine that his products are designed for existing adult smokers to switch to these safer alternatives.
I agree with the age restrictions, myself. We need to be doing all we can to reduce the number of young people smoking.
Featured image via YouTube screenshot.