Legislation has passed in California early this month raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill also states that the sale of electronic cigarettes is limited to those who are over 21. This, of course, has brought some heavily debated topics back into the limelight.
Many are in support of the new bill, including The American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, The American Lung Association, as well as the president of the California Medical Association.
“[These laws] will save countless lives, reduce astronomical costs to the health care system, and cost very little because it uses existing enforcement mechanisms,” said Senator Ed Hernandez, who wrote the bill. “Today was an enormous victory for not only this generation, but also for many generations to come who will not suffer the deadly impacts of tobacco.”
However, there are many that don’t support the bill. Among them, The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association that called the new limitations to vapor products “counterproductive to public health.”
“California took a step backward today by reclassifying vapor products as tobacco,” it said. “Our industry, which was built by former smokers that morphed into small- and mid-sized businesses, has always supported sensible legislation, such as prohibitions on selling to minors, reasonable licensing requirements, and child-resistant packaging.”
What Does This Have To Do With Drug Abuse?
You might be wondering, how does this affect the drug and alcohol world? It is widely believed that children who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop an addiction to other types of drugs. In fact, studies show that 90% of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking before age 18. The age requirements for buying cigarettes (including electronic cigarettes) being raised are said to result in nearly a quarter million fewer premature deaths, not including 50,000 fewer deaths caused by lung cancer for people born between 2009 and 2019.
Even more troubling is the number of kids using vape pens to get high, namely with marijuana, in a discreet manner, often times right in front of parents, teacher, and even police.
“I think that these devices do have a role in helping people get off of actual cigarettes and that they may be proven safer in that case, but in the hands of teenagers and drug abusers, they are definitely a very dangerous thing to have,” said Jim Hall, a drug abuse epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in April 2015 that electronic cigarette usage tripled between 2013 and 2014 and some of the kids had never smoked before.