Hawaii rose the legal age for smoking to 21 after 100 cities across the United States have done the same last year.
Studies have shown that the majority of underage smokers are starting smoking around the age of 16 and they usually rely on their friends over 18 to provide the cigarettes to them. By raising the legal age for purchasing cigarettes the law would broaden the gap between the underage solicitors and the legal smokers.
Jonathan Chaffee, the youth outreach coordinator for Roswell Park Cancer Institute says that not many 21-years olds hang out with teens under 18 so it would cut the supplies for a lot of teenagers.
According to Chaffee the Tobacco 21 law will have an important impact in the prevention of nicotine’s effects on adolescent brains. More studies have shown that nicotine affects addiction, impulse and decision-making so Tobacco 21 will help protect the still developing brains of teens until they become mature enough to make their own decisions at an age when it is less likely to become addicted.
Chautauqua County and the City of Salamanca have both already had a possession law stating that nobody under 18-years old can possess tobacco products so Tobacco 21 follows the same line of thinking making it even harder for teens to get cigarettes.
However it is yet unknown how Tobacco 21 will influence the overall smoking rates but it is believed that the impact will be huge on youth smoking even if it will only be visible in a few years from now.
The law has been voted a while ago but implemented from January 1st to give enough time to people to get used to the idea and also give enough time to stores to train their employees not to sell cigarettes to people under 21.
The first grant-funded survey has been completed in November by the Council of Addiction Recovery Services in Cattaraugus County. The survey looked at the smoking rates of high school and also junior high students. Six graders were asked about tobacco use, just 8th, 10th and 12th graders. The results are not yet out.
The students will be surveyed every two years from now on and its results could show the impact of Tobacco 21 over the smoking rates among adolescents and young adults under 21.
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