Should 21 be the legal age to buy cigarettes?

Should 21 be the legal age to buy cigarettes?

Legislation introduced in New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg may restrict teens from purchasing tobacco products for a few more years. The proposal suggests that the legal age should be raised from 18 to 21.

The Surgeon General reports that nearly 90 percent of smokers have already picked up the habit by 18.

Changing the age to 21-years-old can help reduce tobacco use among people between the ages of 18 to 20 by 55 percent and a 67 percent decrease for those 14 to 17-years-old, NYC officials estimate.

Dr. Michael Steinberg, director of the Tobacco Dependence Program at Rutgers University said in an article, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, that this law could potentially reduce the amount of teens who may ever try a cigarette.

As noted in the article, tobacco use continues to be the cause of the most preventable death in the U.S. and the “goal of comprehensive tobacco control is to reduce its harm to society.” The article also states that “helping smokers quit is insufficient – it is critical to prevent young people from every taking a puff on that first cigarette.”

Steinberg believes that 21-year-olds are more likely, based on their maturity and life experiences, to make a more informed and sensible choice about a habit that can ultimately affect the rest of their life, more than an 18-year-old.

“Cigarettes and tobacco contain some of the most addictive chemicals in our society,” Steinberg says. “Smoking a cigarette delivers more nicotine more efficiently to your brain than if you were to inject nicotine intravenously.”

Currently there are four states that have the legal age to buy tobacco products at 19, they include: Alaska, Alabama, Utah and New Jersey. In addition, New Jersey is also in talks about raising the age for purchasing tobacco.

Even though Steinberg hopes that this legislation can help prevent people ages 18 to 20 from going down “an undesirable path of lifelong tobacco addiction,” it can’t be accomplished by this one law. He does believe that it is a great start and just right thing to do. The vote is said to take place this fall.

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  1. This law sounds ridiculous! I just don’t get it. We have men/women who are not yet 21 fighting and dying in the middle east, yet we come up with laws about drinking and smoking. It makes no sense to me. If you are old enough to serve our country, you should be able to drink/smoke at age 18.

  2. In era where we are called upon to “support the troops” and “thank the vets” for our so-called freedoms, our societly continues to allow the left-wing advocates and activists push for laws that restrict our freedoms.

    Dr. Steinberg:

    At some point your ancestors were welcomed to this country because they supposedly valued the ideas America represented. Specifically, democracy, capitalism and free markets. And while the three when combined can have effects some may find less than ideal, it is what it is. If you find this recipe offensive or toxic to your ideals you are welcome to leave; but don’t dare push for legislation that limit the choices of adults.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.