An effort is being made in California to push the smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill was introduced Jan. 29 into California’s state senate. The purpose of the bill is to limit teenagers from smoking early on to reduce addiction rates.
Tobacco companies know people are addicted at a young age, and it cannot be afforded another generation addicted to a product that could eventually kill them, according to Senator Ed. Hernandez, Los Angeles County, the author of the bill.
The bill referred to as SB151 for Senate Bill 151, is supported by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the Cancer Action Network. These groups are also pushing a per pack cost increase of two dollars.
The bill would mean to a certain extent liberties taken away. A smoker’s rights group, western regional representative of ‘The Smoker’s Club,’ Robert Best said that the bill is a waste of time and that people start smoking before the age of 18, the law would not change that. On another note, Best said that the drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18.
Being 18 years old means that the person is an adult and he or she can do what they want, Best added. If the smoking age is lowered that would mean that people would have to wait three more years to buy cigarettes. Best mentioned that the law just would not change anything.
Luther Cobb, MD, the president of the California Medical Association said his association believes increasing the age will decrease the tobacco use in young people and decrease the number of avoidable diseases. Smoking is connected to the deaths of more than 480,000 of Americans each year. 40,000 of these people are Californians that die linked to a smoking contribution. 40,000 Americans die per year in the U.S. by a second-hand smoke contribution.
The California senator may be playing follow the leader when it comes to raising the smoking age; in places such as Hawaii County and New York City have already increased the legal smoking age to 21. Hernandez, also the chair of the Senate Health Committee, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the bill would build on laws already in effect to limit tobacco sales.
Hernandez assured that the cost to the taxpayers would be “zero to none,” because of STAKE already in effect. The law would prohibit the advertising demographic people to be under the age of the 21. Hernandez is also an optometrist, in this case he wants people to see that the bill makes sense financially. The benefits do not lie in just financial sense, because fewer people smoking would mean fewer people affected by second-hand smoke.
The setbacks are that disabling people to smoke at 18 means taking away their civil liberties. As a side effect, this would define adulthood at an older age.
Senate bill 151 is essentially a past bill to enforce the minimum smoking age of 18, with the 18 scratched out and a 21 put in instead. The bill says that if adults are caught giving any tobacco products to people under 21, they are going to be fined a maximum of $600 for the first violation, all the way up to $6,000 for a fifth violation in a five-year period.
By Jacob Dowd
Photo by Valentin Ottone – License