In mid-August, California lawmakers approved six anti-tobacco laws that not only helped ban e-cigarettes, but also proposed the state raise the tobacco consumption age to 21.
While this has sparked controversy, the town of Healdsburg raised the age to 21 more than a year ago.
This left many concerns to not only the citizens, but to everyone else in California.
An argument that came up was that all you had to do was drive to the next town and get your cigarettes.
While this is true, I hope that Healdsburg’s decision creates a domino effect, and other cities around California will start raising the age as well.
Another argument that arose was that it’s unfair that 18 year olds can risk their life for this country, but can’t drink or smoke.
Raising the tobacco age is about protecting America’s youth and cutting down the number of new young smokers.
While the stigma against smoking is becoming more prevalent among older adults, young teens are taking that first puff at a younger age every year.
Anti-smoking ads have aired more frequently on television, and they are targeted towards young teens.
E-cigarettes as well as regular cigarettes are popular amongst middle schoolers and high schoolers, and it’s very easy for underage high schoolers to get ahold of cigarettes.
Many of their friends are 18 and can easily nab a pack for them.
By raising the age, we are cutting off that interaction.
Most 21-year olds don’t want to buy cigarettes for young teens, anyways.
Studies have shown brains aren’t fully developed until at least a person’s mid-20s. Of course this varies, but changes in the brain are still occurring in adults 18 to 25.
Obviously, alcohol and smoking can hinder these changes and developments.
Once these changes stop, you will be making better decisions at 25 than 18.
So it’s important to stop teens from making that decision to light a cigarette for the first time when they’re 18 or younger.
Of course smoking and drinking are freedoms. But many people are treating them as rights, when they are not.
We all have the freedom to choose when we take the first puff after we are of legal age.
But I see raising the tobacco age as a way to not only lower the risk of lung cancer and other health problems, but keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors.
I know it’s hard to realize cigarettes cause more harm than good.
It’s easy to say that you will quit smoking in a few months, but look at the thousands of people who started smoking when they were younger. Many of them haven’t quit.
We once lived in a time where we promoted smoking while pregnant. They’re so cheap and accessible, it’s almost like we are handing packs out.
As of June 19, Hawaii was the first to have the age of tobacco consumption raised to 21 state wide. More than 90 cities across eight states are following in Healdsburg’s and Hawaii’s footsteps.
Although, it’s not likely that the age raise will become law anytime soon, Healdsburg as well as other locations have set an example that, I can only hope, the rest of California will follow.