Differing opinions about raising the tobacco age limit to 21
Last week a vaping policies’ expert from the Heartland Institute explained why efforts to raise the tobacco age limit to 21 may be counterproductive. On the otherhand, a health officer for the Jackson County Health Department, thinks that this may be the answer in combating youth tobacco addiction.
Richard J. Thoune, who is the health officer for the Jackson County Health Department, pointed out that 95% of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21 and that the earlier a person starts to smoke, the harder it is for them to curb the habit. Hence why he is suggesting a new legislation which would increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products and nicotine containing e-cigarettes from 18 to 21.
Research has indicated that exposing the young brain to nicotine leads to a deeply ingrained addiction that is harder to kick, than in people who started consuming nicotine later in life.
Thoune said that researchers from the Ohio State University College of Public Health, pointed out that oftentimes youngsters get access to cigarettes from their slightly older 18 to 20 year old peers. And this is a problem, because research has indicated that exposing the young brain to nicotine leads to a deeply ingrained addiction that is harder to kick than in people who started consuming nicotine later in life.
In line with this, a recent study conducted in Israel looking into brain function and causes of addiction, concluded that smoking as a teenager increases one’s chances to use alcohol and other drugs later in life.
Making substances inaccessible to youth just pushes them to obtain them illegally
Alcohol and marijuana are both illegal for minors, yet this has not stopped them from obtaining them. “Why would lawmakers expect different results when it comes to tobacco cigarettes?”
On the other end of the stick, State Government Relations Manager from the The Heartland Institute Lindsey Stroud, pointed out that the illegality of other substances does not stop youngsters from consuming them. On the contrary, it just pushes them to obtain these substances illegally, at times from the black market where they are unregulated and possibly unsafe. “The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in its Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs 58% of 12th graders reported consuming alcohol in 2015.”
She added that this study found that alcohol has remained “the substance most widely used by today’s teenagers,” while 35% of the study participants also reported using marijuana. In an article on The Heartland’s Institute’s website, Stroud pointed out that alcohol and marijuana are both illegal for minors in every state, yet this has not stopped these youngsters from obtaining and consuming the substances. “Why would lawmakers expect different results when it comes to tobacco cigarettes?” she concluded.