In the vast majority of the American states, it is already illegal to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 18. Yet advocates of the anti-tobacco movement believe that were the legal age for purchasing tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars increased to 21 years, this step alone could go a long way towards stopping young people from picking up the habit.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) conducted a survey on Americas attitudes to smoking, returning a result that 75% of the 4,000 people surveyed were either strongly in favour, or somewhat in favour of increasing the legal age for smoking to 21, on a par with the USA’s current legal age for alcohol consumption.
Just 11% of respondents stated that they would strongly oppose such a change, while 14% stated that they would somewhat oppose it. Ultimately, the survey’s results were clear: 75% of the survey group were in favour of raising the minimum legal age for smoking.
Legislation on smoking and many other things is managed on a state-by-state basis in the USA, with state legislatures holding the power to institute localised laws across their own states. Hawaii is the latest state to exercise such powers regarding the legal smoking age, with a recent announcement indicating that as of January 2016, the legal age for purchasing both tobacco-based products and E-cigarettes will rise to 21 years of age.
Alabama, Utah, New Jersey and Alaskan laws currently set the legal smoking age as 19, while a further 80 US cities already institute a 21 years or older smoking policy.
The CDC promotes and supports state-wide moves to increase the legal smoking age in the USA, claiming that such changes will have a direct, positive impact on the numbers of teenage smokers; however, no studies or evidence has been provided to back up such claims. Cities and states that already institute a legal smoking age of older than 18 have yet to report any changes to the number of teenage smokers, and no studies have demonstrated that such changes have as yet contradicted this.
What do you think the legal smoking age should be? Are you in favour of raising the legal smoking age? Do you think that raising the legal smoking age will help to reduce teen smoking?