Should we raise the smoking age?

by celine.m on Mars 15, 2015 - 8:31pm

Original Titile:Raise the smoking age? Report predicts big health benefits if we do

Written by: Joseph Netto

Appeared in CNN news

Published on friday March 13th 2015


A report published in the Institute of Medicine declares that increasing the age in which people buy cigarettes could have a tremendous impact on the next generation of American adults. They are suggesting that people under the age of 21 should not have access to nicotine. This action can create ‘’4.2 million fewer years of life lost’’. They report that making 21 the minimum age to purchase cigarettes could result in a quarter million less premature deaths and more than 40 000 fewer deaths   from lung cancer.

Even tough there are a lot less smokers who are under the age of 18, most of the present day smokers began before the age of 18. The most important age group to nicotine addiction is between the ages of 15 and 17 because the adolescent’s brain is still in development. This age group would benefit the most by the increase in minimal age to purchase cigarettes. The report declares that this increase in purchasing age and social forces, like friends or colleagues, could reduce the number of people introduced to this substance. This study was conduced by a committee of experts who used literature on tobacco initiative, developmental biology and psychology to arrive to these conclusions. According to Chris Hansen of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network “powerful interventions are needed to keep youth from lifelong addictions to these deadly products’’. Today, four states have increased their legal age to 19 and certain jurisdictions have increased it to 21.


However, the FDA declares that they cannot raise the age for tobacco purchase nationwide. The state governments will take this decision. The report says, "These decisions will depend on each state's or locality's balance between personal interests and the privacy of young adults to make their own choices versus society's legitimate concerns about protecting public health."