Should the Smoking Age Be Raised to 21?

by Mark Barrus
Mark Barrus

Michael Winter of USA TODAY wrote an article Friday about how the states of
Utah and Colorado could be raising the smoking age to 21
 

I was unaware that New York City, and Hawaii County had already raised the age to 21, and would like to find some data on the effectiveness of such legislation as it becomes available. Apparently Maryland is considering it as well.

Lawmakers in Colorado and Utah have taken a step toward becoming the first states to regulate cigarettes like alcohol by boosting the smoking age to 21.

Legislative committees in each state passed similar measures Thursday to ban young adults 18 to 20 years old from buying, possessing and consuming tobacco. The bills face additional votes and the signature of each state’s governor before becoming law.

Talk to your children “before” they experiment with smoking, even if you smoke yourself. I think many parents don’t know how to talk with their children about these issues, and when they do, they may find that it’s 5 years too late.

Telling a teenager “not” to do something can backfire, though. Educate them and don’t treat them like toddlers. Young adults need to learn to make decisions, good and bad, as they need to develop the ability to make decisions on the own. Teach them to be as independent as possible, and create a home life where they ask their parents their opinion.

Educate them about smoking, as Jennifer Scott puts it. She also brings up a good point on how chewing tobacco, or dipping, is very popular with young children, as many see their sports heroes with a wad in their cheek. Some role models don’t take their jobs seriously enough, and think signing autographs is the extent of their commitment.

Michael goes on to bring up an excellent point about the importance of not starting smoking at such a young age, and that the numbers are surprising:

Last year, researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine that 90% of daily U.S. smokers have their first cigarette by age 18 years of age, and that young adults between 18 and 20 years old bought about 90% of the cigarettes for minors.

In Utah, the average age that youths begin smoking is about 13 years old, a state health department survey found last year.

In case you don’t know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there are sill 42.1 million smokers in the USA.

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