Tobacco Law Changes

The legal age minimum to buy tobacco products has been raised to 21


by Ella Sulwer, Social Media Manager

On Dec. 20, 2019, legislation was signed to alter the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The minimum age for tobacco sales has now been changed from 18 to 21. Not all the details of the law change have been released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yet many react to change with several varying opinions on the topic. 

“It’s not going to affect me personally because I don’t smoke, but it will probably affect some other kids that do smoke,” senior Virginia Werth said, “because they won’t be able to legally buy products anymore. I do think it’s a good thing though, because it’s really become an epidemic.” 

Legally, the change shouldn’t affect any high school students other than maybe seniors with birthdays early in the school year. Smoking and Juuling do affect underage students as statistics made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) show that one out of four high school students have used some form of electronic cigarettes and six out of 100 students smoke cigarettes. 

“I’m sure, unfortunately, we do have students here smoking,” school nurse Casie McKinney said, “but I haven’t really seen any changes yet.”

Many are wondering whether this change will actually do much good, or if the law should have just been left alone, remaining at 18 years old. 

“Personally, I don’t really have many strong feelings on it,” sophomore Cassidy Blanke said. “I feel like it doesn’t hurt, but I can also see why it could frustrate some people, because it’s always been 18.”

Even understanding the horrible effects of tobacco products and all the side effects that could come along with using them, some think that it should be their choice to decide whether they want to buy the products or not. Looking at other rights and choices that turning 18 brings, people are wondering why they have the power to vote for the top leaders of the country, but are not allowed to buy a pack of cigarettes from a gas station. 

“I don’t endorse tobacco or alcohol, but I think that you should be allowed to smoke cigarettes if you can vote or be sent to war,” sophomore Emma Lauth said.

Even with the new age minimum, anyone in the age range 18-20 that already had started legally buying cigarettes has a good shot of already being addicted to them and, depending on the person, they likely aren’t going to move on and stop smoking right off the bat because of the new legislation. What happens to people in this position is another side to the story

“I feel like they might push for some reforms to get those people access to help and treatment options,” Werth said, “but it’s like kind of a gray area because if they are like ‘oh you are addicted and can keep buying it’, any 18 year old could say ‘I’m addicted, let me buy it’. If they’re going to say ‘no, you have to be 21’ then it is going to have to apply across the board.”

Finally, with a mix of opinions for, against, and impartial to the newly altered legislation, many are curious about the fact that maybe this should have been in place for a long time now, as opposed to just now adjusting the law. 

“I think the change isn’t really going to hurt anything,” Blanke said, “but maybe it should have been sooner because of all the lung things happening to people now and how easy it is to get nicotine and tobacco.”