California becomes the second state to raise the minimum smoking age to 21 from 18.
California Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill on Wednesday that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco for smoking, dipping, chewing, and vaping to 21. The legal age was originally 18, and California is now the second state, behind Hawaii, to raise the age in an effort to crack down on tobacco.
The governor signed the bill along with four others and supporters of the law, saying that their aim is to decrease the number of adolescents that begin smoking at a young age and become addicted.
According to the Institute of Medicine, 90% of daily smokers, which are considered to be dependent on the substance, began using tobacco before turning 19. If this new law can help curb this statistic and cause young people to decide not to smoke by the time they are of legal age to buy it, then the law is effective.
The law won’t go into effect until June 9th, after which no one under 21 can buy tobacco and anyone caught giving it to “minors” could be charged with a misdemeanor. The only exception to this rule is a clause that says the new law does not apply to military personnel.
The Institute of Medicine also stated that the new law would immediately deter 15% of people aged 18-20 from taking up a tobacco habit. The study, which was conducted at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, found that increasing the minimum smoking age above 20
“will mean that those who can legally obtain tobacco are less likely to be in the same social networks as high school students.”
California lawmakers hope that other states will follow suit and increase their minimum age as well to crack down on the number of tobacco consumers and effect some positive change for the environment.
The tobacco industry affects the environment in many harmful ways besides the terrible carbon emissions that come from just smoking. Tobacco production and use affects deforestation, climate change, litter, and forest fires.
Opponents of the bill state that since the legal age of becoming an adult is 18 that new adults should be allowed to make their own choices and that we shouldn’t nanny them.
However, since changing the age to 21 makes it more difficult for minors to acquire tobacco, Democratic Assemblyman Jim Wood said,
“This will save the medical system in the outgoing years millions of dollars. It will save thousands of lives.”
This new law could have an array of positive effects on people’s health and the environment, but only time will tell how deep the impact is.
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