Last night, on Monday the 17th of April, the council reviewed two proposed ordinances. One is to prohibit the sale of tobacco to individuals younger than 21. The second ordinance asks that electronic cigarettes are regulated, and demands that retailers of the products are to possess a special licence and abide by certain rules, such as not selling the devices within 500 feet of schools or youth-populated areas.
“The hope is that there will be a domino effect and this will also go to the county and beyond,” she said.
Hawaii was the first US state to raise the minimum age to 21 in January 2016, followed by California in June of the same year. Additionally, approximately 225 U.S. localities, out of which 144 are in Massachusetts, also raised the age limit as of April 7.
Levin also believes in raising the age for consumption. She cites research by Tobacco 21, an Ohio-based nonprofit that refers to a study released in 2015 by the Institute of Medicine, which claims that by raising the age of consumption to 21, the national smoking rate would decrease by 12% while smoking-related deaths would drop by 10 percent over time.
Does increasing the age limit actually work?
However many public health experts disagree and insist on differentiating between smoking and vaping. Several studies throughout the years have found that smokers tend to have their first puff in their early teenage years, between the ages of 13 and 16. Hence, although raising the age of smoking is an undeniably good idea, denying adolescents the possibility of using vaping products, which were found to be at least 95% safer than cigarettes, and effective smoking cessation tools, would be unwise.
“Strict enforcement of minimum-age laws did make it so fewer stores sold tobacco to minors. But surveys of high school students in those same communities revealed no effect on the ability of teens to get cigarettes and no reduction in the prevalence of smoking,” wrote Mike Males, a senior researcher for San Francisco’s Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
“In fact, there was an increase in teenage smoking compared with nearby communities that hadn’t cracked down.” he added, about the aftermath of the age raise in California.