The smoking legal age is set to increase from 18 to 21 at the start of the New Year. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Public Law 34-01 will raise the legal age for access to tobacco products. There is a mandatory education for those who violated the law.
It was Speaker Benjamin Cruz who wrote the bill. Cruz said that the bill became a law because of the young people in Guam. They believe that increasing the legal age is a cost effective way to save money and lives. Youth, who start smoking early are unlikely to quit. Staywell, a local insurance company, states that a non-smoking patient age 65 or older with chronic illness will use annual health care services of up to $9,466. Health care costs for smokers with lung cancer is $480,954.
Public Law 34-01 will save lives and money from a lifetime of addiction. Tobacco is one of the legal products sold in America that kills. The rate in Guam is 27.4 percent, which is higher than the national average of 17.5 percent. Health care professionals who supported the bill believe that this will ultimately help decrease the smoking average to 12 percent.
Smoking Legal Age to Increase From 18 to 21 on Jan. 1
Terry Cuabo, the executive director of the Guam Cancer Care, said that the organization doled out $870,000 in grants to 1,440 residents with cancer. According to the 2015 study conducted by Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Guam has the highest adult-smoker rate with 27.4 percent.
Dr. Annette David of Health Partners claimed that 16 percent of high school students in the U.S. vape. The rate is rising. In Guam, the rate is 32 percent. In Guam alone, 23 percent of middle school students use e-cigarettes. The national average is 5.3 percent. The bill to increase the legal age passed the legislature in a 9-6 vote.
Smoking Is Hard to Quit
Nicotine stimulates pleasure centers in the brain. It is highly addictive. The smoker who stops nicotine use will experience physical withdrawal symptoms. This will make the person want to start again to stop the symptoms. Each person experiences withdrawal from nicotine addiction a little differently.
Tobacco use killed more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined. Tobacco smoke contains 7,000 chemicals. Seventy of these can cause cancer, according to the CDC. The World Health Organization claimed that each year tobacco use resulted in 6 million deaths worldwide. About 890,000 deaths were from non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
The Time to Quit Is Always Now
Smoking cessation methods like nicotine-replacement therapy can help people to quit. SmokeBeat from Somatix is an Israeli app to detect real time smoking, based on hand-to-mouth gestures. The sensors are built into wristbands and smartwatches. The app is available on iOS or Android for smokers and non-smokers.
Smokers in the U.S., Canada, France, Israel, and Turkey are participating in the trial to quit the habit. It uses the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) like financial, emotional, rational, and social incentives to motivate individual behavioral changes. Smokers can sort statistics, set goals, and compare their progress to others. Somatix plans to market SmokeBeat to employee-benefits programs, outpatient clinics, and insurance companies in early 2018.
By Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Jeanette Smith
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