There are times people need some help when it comes to their health and making smart choices. Left to our own devices, most of us would exercise too little, eat and drink too much and count on pills to make things right.
And while we’re not advocates of the government imposing rules and regulations on people’s personal choices, we do support a piece of legislator led by Hawaii’s U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz that could lead to fewer people smoking and using tobacco, and thus, save lives.
Schatz and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., reintroduced the Tobacco to 21 Act, bicameral legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.
It’s already that way in Hawaii and other states. And it makes sense, even if just from a health point of view.
“Research shows that raising the minimum smoking age to 21 would save lives,” Schatz said. “In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to raise the age limit, and since then, four other states have joined us. This bill would bring all 50 states together, so we can protect our young people from this addiction, and save lives in the process.”
“With Big Tobacco constantly targeting our youth through new and flavored products, it’s no surprise that nearly all tobacco users began their addiction as kids or young adults,” Durbin said. “Across Illinois and the country, cities and states are fighting back with common-sense policies to shield kids from a lifetime of addiction. By raising the federal tobacco age of sale to 21, we can help prevent a new generation from tobacco-related disease, health care costs, and death.”
Now, some will argue that in America, you only have to be 17 to join the military and question why you can serve your country as a teenager, but you can’t drink or smoke.
Let DeGette explain.
“Smoking is a deadly, addictive habit that can harm human health even in limited amounts. It is especially hazardous to developing bodies. Why on earth would we wish to expose our young people to its dangers? As federal legislators, it is our moral obligation to ensure that the law does not favor the tobacco industry over the health and safety of our nation’s youth. This bill would go a long way to keeping carcinogens out of young people’s hands – and throats, and lungs.”
It’s estimated 36.5 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. That, right there, is all the reason we should need to keep people from smoking at a younger age. We’re glad Hawaii became a leader in keeping teens from smoking when it raised the legal smoking age to 21.
Every day, approximately 1,300 people die from smoking-related diseases, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Laws can play an important role in preventing these deaths.
Research from the National Academy of Medicine shows that raising the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.
Currently, 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. You know what they say. The best way to stop smoking, is to never start.
This bill could help keep teens from ever lighting up a cigarette.