Should The Smoking Age Be Raised To 21? Some Experts Think So

Some experts believe the smoking age should be raised to 21.

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It's common knowledge that the drinking age is 21 years old in the U.S. As for purchasing tobacco, the legal age is 18 or 19 in most states. Recently, experts have been debating whether the smoking age should be raised to 21, citing the health risks as a major reason. Back in June, Hawaii became the first state to raise their smoking age to 21 (which also includes e-cigarettes). Now there's a campaign being led in Kansas to do the same.

This is a great debate question to pose in your classroom: Should the legal age to purchase cigarettes be raised?

Students may argue that at the age of 18, someone is legally an adult and should be allowed to make their own decisions. However, the flip side is that upping the age may help curb smoking among the younger generation. After all, statistics say that a majority of adult smokers started before age 21.

Recently Henry Ford Hospital's pulmonologist Daniel Ouellette, M.D. released a statement supporting this movement. He said,

Most of my patients are diagnosed with emphysema or lung cancer at a relatively young age from smoking, despite the media attention given to the health risks of smoking and despite them knowing about those risks.

In that same press release, Oullette touched on the topic of e-cigarettes and whether they actually reduce smoking. While he said that has yet to be determined, he stated how more and more young people are smoking e-cigs, and the devices have caused hospitalizations for seizures, pneumonia, and more.

As far as the health risks of cigarettes, there is plenty of research about that. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking causes one in five deaths in the U.S. every year.

Share these blog posts and articles with your students to spark discussion:

Check out previous Choices debates here, and our 33 best online sources for teen health.