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Last week Oregon raised the age limit to purchase tobacco to 21, making it the fifth state in the Unites States to implement such a regulation. The first two states were Hawaii and California, followed by New Jersey last July and then Maine.

Last week Oregon raised the age limit to purchase tobacco to 21, making it the fifth state in the Unites States to implement such a regulation.
“We know this is going to be a huge step in preventing youth addiction to the only substance that if used is directed is almost certain to kill you,“ said Christopher Friend, a government relations director for the American Cancer Society’s legislative arm in Oregon. “Ninety-five percent of lifetime smokers begin the habits before age 21, so we know any steps we can do to discourage young people will have a ripple effect.​”

 

Rob Crane, president of an organization that advocates this movement called Tobacco 21, agrees with Friend. “We are programmed as adolescents to try new things, which is a perfect recipe for dangerous things,” he said. Additionally, data released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, indicates that 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 20.

Cigarettes and safer alternatives should be regulated differently

While making it harder for adolescents to obtain cigarettes may be a good idea, limiting their accessibility to the products which could help them quit, may not.
However the above arguments and data are precisely why harm reduction advocates think that including alternative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, in the age limit and regulating them in the same way as cigarettes, will be detrimental to public health. While making it harder for adolescents to obtain cigarettes may be a good idea, limiting their accessibility to the products which could help them quit, may not.

Additionally, Alex Clark, the Executive Director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), said that raising the tobacco age would lead to an increased “black market activity” as underage people will seek other ways of obtaining their preferred tobacco products.

“Ninety-five percent of lifetime smokers begin the habits before age 21, so we know any steps we can do to discourage young people will have a ripple effect.​” Christopher Friend, Government Relations Director, American Cancer Society, Oregon

On the other hand, a study published in the journal Tobacco Control shows promising results. After the Boston suburb of Needham raised its tobacco age limit to 21, smoking amongst adolescents was reduced by 50%.

More info : Time

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