Raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products and vaping products from 18 to 21 isn’t about taking away someone’s rights.
It’s about saving lives. Lots of them.
Every year in America, nearly 11,000 children start smoking.
Of all the adult smokers in America, 90 percent of them picked up the habit before they turned 18.
Of the kids under 18 who’ve already taken up smoking, about 280,000 of them will eventually die of a smoking-related illness.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new proposal to raise the statewide purchase age of tobacco products is a wise and urgent public safety action. But it’s also coming too late for thousands of New Yorkers who might not have taken up smoking if the purchase age was already 21.
For those who will be discouraged or prevented from taking up the habit, this bill is a life-saver.
The movement to raise the age is already underway, as old arguments against raising the age have fallen by the wayside.
Twenty of New York’s 62 counties, including Albany and Schenectady counties, have already raised the legal purchase age to 21.
But having multiple purchasing ages from jurisdiction to jurisdiction means people can drive across a county line to make their purchases. Having a consistent, statewide age limit will eliminate that practice.
Raising the minimum age limit on the purchase of vaping products is also a legitimate public health action.
While many adult smokers use vaping as a way to successfully wean themselves off tobacco, many kids have taken up the habit, which has no health benefits and only harmful effects.
Enticed by vaping liquids flavored to taste like candy and mint, one-third of high school seniors have used a vaping device or e-cigarette in the last year, according to an article published by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. About one in 15 eighth-graders reported vaping in the last month, the article stated.
While the negative health effects of vaping are still being uncovered, studies have shown a clear connection between vaping as a child and smoking later on in life.
A 2017 study conducted by Dartmouth professors found “strong and consistent evidence of an association between initial e-cigarette use and subsequent cigarette smoking initiation.”
By raising the purchase age to 21 of tobacco and vaping (and eventually setting it at 21 for marijuana products), the state would be taking a crucial life health decision out of the hands of children and delaying it until they’re in a better position to make that decision for themselves.