As of August 2017, five states and some 260 municipalities have raised the legal smoking age to 21, and these laws usually also include vaping. Maine just because the fifth state, and its legislation goes into effect on July 1, 2018. But according to a study released by scientists of Cornell University, the seemingly well-intentioned state and local regulations meant to curb teen smoking may produce the direct opposite effects on public health.
The FDA deeming regulations already require all vape shops, both brick and mortar and e-commerce stores, to only sell to individuals over the age of 18. With the rise in popularity of vaping in recent years, anti-tobacco lobbyists like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids organization has been working overtime to lump vaping products into the same category as tobacco cigarettes. Oddly, the controversy lies in the fact that electronic cigarettes are essentially 100% tobacco-free already.
The Cornell University study
But the report out of Cornell University is warning public health officials to not rush to judgement because raising the smoking age to 21 may very likely lead to an increase in teen smoking rates overall. In fact, teen smoking rates in some regions of Hawaii and California have steady begun to climb since the implementation of their over-21 laws in January and June of 2016 respectively. To add further concern, teen use of marijuana has is also apparently climbing.
“For cigarette use, we separate our results into cigarette use frequency. We found causal evidence that ENDS age purchasing restrictions increased adolescent regular cigarette use by 0.8 percentage points. ENDS age purchasing restrictions were not associated with cigar use, smokeless tobacco use, or marijuana use.’
The study entitled The influence of electronic cigarette age purchasing restrictions on adolescent tobacco and marijuana use is readily available in the online journal Preventative Medicine. According to the report, when teens have a more difficult time purchasing vaping products, they are far more likely to buy tobacco cigarettes or marijuana instead. By continuously demonizing e-cigarettes, anti-vaping organizations like Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is basically driving the American youth into the arms of Big Tobacco.
Let’s be honest. Buying a pack of cigarettes has never been all that difficult for minors, even today. Meanwhile, with the massive government crackdown on the vaping industry thanks to the Obama-era FDA deeming regulations, vendors are far more aggressive in carding their vaping customers than they are their smokers. With statistics like those from the Cornell study, it kind of makes one wonder. Are anti-tobacco groups like Tobacco Free Kids really anti-tobacco at all?