A new law has been passed in California stating that the age for buying tobacco has been raised from 18 to 21, along with other restrictions, such as regulating the sale and use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Companies will now be required to show what is in their products, as people were previously never informed on what exactly they were inhaling.
In addition, if anti-tobacco activists have their way, local governments may increase taxes for tobacco products. Tax on a pack of cigarettes could be raised $2 above the current $0.87.
The biggest reason for these changes is increasing efforts for the public health of California citizens. Studies and surveys have shown that ninety percent of daily smokers first began using tobacco before the age of nineteen. Pushing back the legal age for smoking could deter young people from trying such substances and getting addicted to it early, at the time when their brains and hormones are still developing. Teens have far more interaction with 18-year olds than young adults in their twenties, so their access to tobacco will also be reduced.
“I am happy about the change in the law. In theory, this will allow our youth to become more educated before trying nicotine and allow their brains to mature. A more mature brain will not be as susceptible to nicotine addiction,” said health teacher Jean Emrich.
So far, a few other states, such as New Jersey and Hawaii, and numerous cities across the U.S. have raised the age for smoking as well to 19 or 21. This action has garnered widespread support, as it helps protect the health and safety of young people as well as save money that might be spent on tobacco or health treatment for the negative effects of smoking.
“Whether or not it will decrease the overall number of smokers is yet to be seen, but at least there is now a legal barrier in place that will make it harder for the younger person to have access,” said school nurse Sandee Velasquez.
These new laws will take effect on June 9.