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Why I Voted No On Increasing The Age To Purchase Tabacco

March 19, 2014

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Some advocate that Utah should be the first state in the union to raise the tobacco-buying age to 21. Senate Bill 12 was aiming for exactly that — but failed on the floor.

Some of the best arguments against it were that Utah would be making criminals out of people who already developed the habit before coming to Utah. For instance, someone driving from Las Vegas to Jackson Hole — or a soldier reassigned to Hill Air Force Base — couldn’t legally purchase or use tobacco products.

SB 12 aimed to raise the age limit for all tobacco products including chewing tobacco and E-Cigs (Electronic-Ciggarettes) by claiming that 95% of adult smokers begin before they turn 21. Also, a 21-year-old who has never smoked has 20-to-1 odds against ever picking up the habit. The odds for an 18 year non smoker are a not-so-friendly 3 to 1.

Could raising the legal smoking age by two years save many young potential smokers by making it harder to obtain tobacco during these important “tipping point” years? Proponents believe so. Opponents don’t see things as simply.

Those in favor of the bill believe that the fewer number of users at this crucial age will amount to less and less adult users over time, and in doing so alleviate the healthcare system of millions dollars in smoking related healthcare. 90% of adults that purchase tobacco for kids are under the age of 21. Which means a lot of 19 and 20 year olds are buying tobacco for their friends a couple years behind them. 62% of current youth smokers get their cigarettes from social contacts. Increasing the age limit by two years would decrease youth’s likelihood of coming into contact with it in their social circles. Having a universal age for alcohol and tobacco would simplify the ID checks for retailors and ensure better control on who is buying what.

Opponents to the bill believe raising the limit will not have the desired effect because smoking rates are already coming down, and smokers start way before age 21 anyway. The average initiation age of cigarette users is 13 years of age. Another argument is how much say the government should have in people’s personal lives. If a citizen is old enough to vote, be drafted and fight for his/her country then why shouldnt they have the right to decide what to and what not to put in their bodies?

With Utah already having the lowest smoking percentage in all of america and with smoking rates declining why fix what doesnt appear to be broken. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Utah has the lowest smoking rate in the country. A Gallup poll in 2011 put the smoking rate in Utah at 11%, far below the National average of 21%. Education Prevention in elementary and Jr. High schools seems one possible solution to decrease long-term smokers and still uphold citizens rights.

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From → 2013 Interim

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