Fightin’ Words: Should the legal smoking age be raised to 21?

No

Andrea MendozaReporter/Office Manager

Cigarettes have often had a bad reputation. Whether it’s a cause for Lung Cancer, bronchitis or emphysema, smoking is filled with criticism. When age and smoking are discussed, there’s always something to talk about. Age should just be a number, but apparently, age defines what one can and can’t do.

The current smoking age is 18. This means that after 18 rotations around the sun, a person can go to a casino, get a tattoo, vote, sign contracts and get married. They also can join the armed forces, be held criminally responsible for their actions, serve custodial sentences in adult jails and take action without a guardian signature.

After 18 years of age, people are smart enough to make their own decisions. If smoking is one of them, then so be it.

There’s been a push by Washington lawmakers to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, but this shouldn’t happen.

Most people are aware of the hazards of smoking. It doesn’t matter whether someone is 18 or 21 to start or give up smoking. According to sharecare.com, the average age at which people start smoking is 15, but according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, younger smokers are more likely to try and quit smoking before becoming older, while the older smokers were less likely to try and quit smoking.

If people are worried about younger people taking up the habit of smoking, raising the legal age to 21 doesn’t guarantee that they won’t pick up the habit. This age raise might make black market cigarettes even more desirable by the younger audience.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adult smokers has decreased to 12 percent while teen smoking has decreased to 19 percent.

This is due to prevention efforts focusing on discouraging the younger population from picking up a cigarette.

Many smoking policies already restrict users. If lawmakers really believe new laws are needed to protect young people from tobacco smoke, they should criminalize adult smoking in all spaces, including private homes and vehicles, when children are present.

Age isn’t the problem. Instead of raising the smoking age, there should be a focus on banning smoking altogether. It’s obvious that smoking’s bad.

Science has shown the negative effects that cigarettes can cause. But the questions isn’t about cigarettes being bad or good, it’s about whether a person is mature enough to handle one.

A person is officially an adult at 18 and should have all the benefits that come with being one.

Raising the legal smoking age to 21 is pointless.

Yes

Grace Amsden, Editor-in-Chief

It was in second grade. All the students sat at the rug while the teacher, sitting in her rocking chair, took out two jars.

One of them had a healthy pair of pink lungs. The other had unhealthy, black lungs, which she explained were from someone who smoked cigarettes. It was frightening, but made a strong impact to stay away from cigarettes.

According to verywell.com, smoking contributes to 90 percent of deaths by cancer. It instantly adds a risk factor for many health concerns such as heart attack and stroke.

It’s questionable as to why law makers would think that 18 is an acceptable age to purchase death sticks.

Ideally, it’d be best to ban cigarette smoking. It’d reduce the amount of secondhand smoke and the damage done to the individual who puffs the nicotine into their system. Yet that’s probably not going to happen, at least at this time.

Something can be done, however – delaying the legal age of purchasing and smoking cigarettes to 21.

Eighteen is simply too young to offer the choice. According to hrweb.mit.edu, it isn’t until the mid 20s when the brain reaches full maturity.  Something as serious as the decision to smoke should be delayed until the individual has a maturity level greater than 18. They shouldn’t be in a rush to buy poison.

At 18, the adult is still developing their decision making, identity and in their maturity. Eighteen shouldn’t be considered as the age which marks an adult because there’s so much growth to be made and mistakes to be learned from.

People may be more inspired by peer pressure versus individual choices at 18. Delaying the legal age for the consumption of cigarettes to 21 might allow an individual to wait those extra years to fully decide  whether they want to smoke.

If someone started smoking at 18 and became addicted, they might regret it later on. If the smoking age was switched to 21, this individual could’ve changed their path.

There’s also the consideration of alcohol, which is accessible at 21. Depending on the circumstances and amount of alcohol entering into the body, it can cause health issues or even be a contributor to drunk driving incidents, which affects the drunk driver and innocent others on the road.

Because cigarettes are also dangerous, it should only be a matter applicable to those 21 and older.

Thankfully, smoking laws are shifting. Hawaii was the first state to raise its smoking age to 21, which went into effect Jan 1, 2016. In California, the legal smoking age is now set at 21 and went go into action June 9.

Washington state isn’t far from raising the legal smoking age to 21, as the House Health Care and Wellness Committee voted 9-3 toward Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bill to raise the age for purchasing tobacco and vapor products to 21, according to atg.wa.gov.

By increasing the smoking age to 21, this could make the air cleaner, the nose happier and body much healthier.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Fightin’ Words: Should the legal smoking age be raised to 21?

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