Several localities and states have increased the legal age of purchasing tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 years. Similarly, more other states are considering such legislation. The proponents argue that this would lower smoking rates among the minors. However, some experts believe that such regulations are pointless and can be deemed as counterproductive measures because:
There is no evidence
According to Lindsey (a state government relations manager), there is virtually no systemic research indicating that an increase in the smoking age will dissuade a teen from picking up the habit.
The illegality of other substances have not declined consumption
Marijuana and alcohol are illegal for the minors in all states and yet it hasn’t prevented them from buying and consuming the substances. In its Monitoring the Future Study, the national institute indicated that 58 percent of 12th graders were consuming alcohol in 2015. The study also pointed out that while alcohol remains the most widely consumed substance among teenagers, 35 percent of the study participants were using marijuana. This clearly shows that it is unlikely there will be any different results when it comes to the tobacco regulations.
More laws do not mean more enforcement
Strict legislation that regulates the sale of tobacco has already been put in place. But, minors under the age of 18 still manage to get their hands on it. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has affirmed that over 1.7 million youngsters aged 12 to 17 were using tobacco in 2014. That means, even with the legal age being 18 teen smoking hasn’t stopped.
Youngsters are likely to buy products on the black market
In line with what various public health experts have indicated, Stroud argues that prohibiting people under the age of 21 from buying tobacco and other related products will only result in the creation or aggravation of black markets. Several surveys have found that the black market has the capability to feed a criminal network and attract vapers to buy products, which are unregulated and probably unsafe. This means that a significant part of the market would be running unofficially and beyond any governmental control. That will make it difficult for authorities to assess the dynamics of the vaping market.
Most smokers start at way younger age
Most smokers 9 out of 10 according to Surgeon General begin lighting up even before the age of 18. For instance, the average age at which someone tries his or her first cigarette in Utah is a pre-pubescent of 12.6 years. Therefore, it is unlikely that those three extra years will tip off balance.
It seems hypocritical
An 18-year-old has the capacity to make an informed decision about the United States president and other elected leaders and can also serve in the military and put his or her life in jeopardy for the country. However, according to these legislations, the same 18-year-old isn’t mature enough to decide whether to smoke or not. Experts point out that this is deceitful and hypocritical at its best.
Smoking rates are declining anyway
Stroud has pointed out that in early 2017 the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that between 2011 and 2016, smoking of cigarettes reduced among the students in middle and high school. Thus, experts debate that there would be no reason for the local and state governments to raise the smoking age since the youth rates are already declining even without the changes.
Interestingly, the same data from CDC indicates that an increase in using e-cigarettes played a significant role in decreasing the smoking habit. Within the same period when smoking rates amongst the minors reduced by half, vaping among the same group increased from 1.5 percent to 16 percent.
Moreover, there was a drop in the percentage of high school students using electronic cigarettes. For the first time since the introduction of e-cigs, vaping declined from 16 percent in 2015 to 11.3 percent in 2016. Similarly, smoking also dropped within the same timeline (2015-2016) from 9.3 percent to 8.0 percent.
The adverse health effects of using tobacco are known universally. But, increasing the legal age from 18 to 21 doesn’t guarantee that these individuals won’t pick up the habit. Thus, it is an individual decision to make your own choices.