Yesterday, Colorado and Utah lawmakers succeeded in advancing bills that, if passed, would raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21. The chief purpose of the bills would be to cut down on the number of smokers who are between 18 and 20, and stop teenagers from picking up the habit early. "What I'm hoping to do is make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes," Rep. Cheri Gerou of Colorado told CBS.
And make no mistake, the statistics behind teens' cigarette use are pretty scary.
- 90 percent of smokers had their first cigarette by the age of 18
- 90 percent of cigarettes smoked by minors were purchased by 18 to 20-year-olds
But will increasing the smoking age really cut down on teen smoking? Well, it worked in Utah: The state's smoking age is 19, and it has the lowest smoking rate out of any state in the entire nation at 10.9 percent. England also successfully cut down teen smoking rates by 30 percent when it raised the smoking age from 16 to 18.
Utah and Colorado aren't the only states that might be considering this change. Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are also considering bills that propose a similar policy. New York City also raised the smoking age to 21 at the end of last year. In light of Colorado's recent legalization of marijuana, some might find the attempt to crack down on cigarette use among youth contradictory. However, research shows that cigarette-smoking is far harsher on your lungs than pot-smoking, and cigarettes are more addictive than they were ten years ago.