Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Bullying Hurts

New Minimum Age to Buy Cigarettes

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


Smoking is a chronic addictive disease that in 80% of the cases begins before the age of 20, which is maintained by the dependence produced by nicotine. Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of disease and death in developed countrieswhere tobacco use is estimated to be responsible for 90% of lung cancer deaths, 95% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 50% of cardiovascular deaths, and 30% of deaths from all types of cancers.

These alarming numbers started a conversation in recent years in the United States regarding the minimum age to buy tobacco products or cigarettes. According to the personal injury lawyers at Riddle & Brantley, while it used to be 18 years old in some states,Congress has implemented new national laws that increase the age to 21 years old to be able to legally buy cigarettes. The main goal for these changes is that they hoped that by increasing the age, even if it’s a couple years only, they can prevent teenagers as well as an entire generation from getting addictive to tobacco and nicotine, preventing potential addiction and health problems.

According to the American Lung Association, every day, around 6,000 minors under 18 years old will try cigarettes for the first time ever. Out of them, at least 2,000 will become regular tobacco users, making it around 730,00 per year. The association also says that smoking is related to other social and mental problems such as anxiety, stress, depression and sometimes even schizophrenia. And while many users say that smoking helps them with these issues, the sad reality is that it doesn’t help in a long term and actual solution. It just acts as a temporary one. That’s why it’s better to seek help with a professional in mental health instead opting for an unhealthy quick fix. Smoking is many times the first step in other dangerous substance abuse addictions, like alcohol or drugs. Although the consequences of smoking are negative at any age, they tend to be especially serious at this stage in life. As this is a critical developmental period in a person's life, so smoking during adolescence can have severe effects. Among the main health problems in teenagers caused by smoking are:

• The respiratory tract becomes obstructed, making the function of the lungs to work poorly.

• The first symptoms and signs of problems related to strokes and heart diseases start developing.

• Sleep is also affected. According to experts, teenage smokers sleep at least half an hour less per day.

• Eating habits change in a negative way and general diets are altered.

• The heart rate also increases in smokers, reducing physical endurance.

More and more states are joining the new law of increasing the legal age. Some of them in which the law is already effective are: California, New York, Oregon, Washington and others. Making it a total of 19 states. There are however some exceptions, like active military members or veterans who have been legally discharged from service that are under 21 years old.

The new law is also aimed to extend to electronic devices that contain some sort of nicotine like e-cigarettes, because many of the new tobacco consumers started their addiction with these products and then moved on to real cigarettes. The concern with these products starts with the lack of information on potential health problems that they can cause to its users. Whether it’s because of unknown results from researches or simply negligence.

In the new legislation is also established to completely forbid the possession of these type of products inside schools. Going as far as not just students but adults as well, unless there is a designated area outside for adult employees. Many people are wondering what type of penalizations are going to be enforced in the case someone breaks this new law. The legislation that was already successfully passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives says that fines can be applied to both underage buyers and sellers, to the point of maybe losing a license depending on a case to case basis.

How is this new law affection the market? Many important companies from the tobacco industry are surprisingly supporting it, while it could be seen as an economical loss, they want to fully be on the side of congress to avoid any stricter scrutiny and regulations, due the already pressure of society caused by all the fatalities and health problems directly linked to tobacco use.

These new changes are without a doubt a huge step in the battle against tobacco addictions among teenagers, but the question relies on how much they will be actually implemented and regulated, considering people can always ask someone else to buy it for them from the store or business owners doing it under the table.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.