In an Attempt to Limit Young Smokers, More Cities Up the Age to 21

On Monday, Evanston, Ill., joined the list of US cities raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21. Next month, Columbia, MO., is expected to follow the same path. Starting in Needham, MA, the list of communities passing such laws is growing rapidly, now including 30 communities in the state of Massachusetts alone. The community initiatives, in turn, are becoming state-wide policies. In June, the New Jersey senate approved a bill to raise the age of purchase of tobacco products to 21.

The new policies are meant to prolong and/or stop cigarette use before it becomes a habit of adult life. A 2012 report by the US Surgeon General it was reported that nine out of ten smokers start at age 18, and 99 percent of smokers do so by age 26. Furthermore, studies indicate that teenagers react more to nicotine in that it takes less of the chemical for them to become addicted than for adults. The new restrictions are expected to cost the tobacco industry $2BN.

Unsurprisingly, Altria Group Inc. and Lorilliard Inc., the leading and third largest tobacco companies respectively have publicly opposed the changing of the minimum age law, noting the current law was set to be the same as the legal age of voting and military service. Altria Group Inc. opposed the failed vote in Colorado last year to change the 18 year age limit restriction, suggesting Congress and the FDA should participate in the vote before changes were made. On the other hand, Reynolds American Inc., has stated that it will leave the matter up to state and local governments in accordance to its youth-tobacco prevention program.

Many argue that changing laws will be ineffective as the young smokers will still be able to get tobacco products by going to a nearby town without the restrictions or through older friends willing to buy for them.

Until you solve the social source problem, you will not solve the youth tobacco problem.”- Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets

The FDA plans to collect and analyze the results of the new restriction to determine whether or not they are successful in further limiting smoking among youths, as well as the smoking habits of adults.


Read more here- “More Cities Raise Tobacco Age to 21,” (Tripp Mickle, The Wall Street Journal)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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