California raises smoking age to 21

California raises smoking age to 21


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California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Wednesday making 21 the legal age to purchase and smoke tobacco in that state. This law also restricted  the use of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

“These laws will save countless lives, reduce astronomical costs to the health care system, and cost very little because it uses existing enforcement mechanisms,” said Senator Ed Hernandez, who authored the bill to raise the age of tobacco products. “Today was an enormous victory for not only this generation, but also for many generations to come who will not suffer the deadly impacts of tobacco.”

There is a great percentage of people who are suffering from the lung cancer because of smoking damage to lungs. The bill made it illegal for citizens under 21 to buy tobacco products and the ones who are allowed to smoke have to smoke in restricted areas. Some people argued saying that if 18-year-olds can volunteer to fight and die for their country then why not be allowed to buy tobacco products. This argument may have been good for the voting age but when it comes to the right to do harm through addiction the government sees this as a protection of young citizens health as well as saving on the burden of health care costs.

This 2008 graphic from the CDC shows that the state of California has the highest quit ratio which points to evidence that laws change behavior when it comes to smoking.

A study from the Institute of Medicine estimates that setting the minimum age at 21 nationwide, would result in nearly a quarter-million fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019. Although many citizens opposed this new law, it is still a good decision and will result in positivity as there are many people suffering from lung cancer and other diseases caused by tobacco. This law will help prevent many deaths because before the age of 21, people will not be able to smoke tobacco.  The Department of Health and Human services sees a need to protect the majority of non-smoking citizens from “second-hand smoke”.  It is an issue both of health protection and government savings on public healthcare costs.

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Correlation between smoking and lung cancer in...
Correlation between smoking and lung cancer in US males, showing a 20-year time lag between increased smoking rates and increased incidence of lung cancer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)