Magazine article State Legislatures

Legal Smoking Age Up

Magazine article State Legislatures

Legal Smoking Age Up

Article excerpt

Hawaii was the first state to increase the legal age to buy tobacco to 21. In June, California became the second. California Senator Ed Hernandez (D) wrote the bill in the Golden State in an effort, he says, "to disrupt the chain of adolescent addiction." According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, about 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they are 21 years old, and many experimental smokers begin smoking daily between the ages of 18 and 21.

Critics of raising the legal age, nevertheless, argue that there are many other serious activities 18-year-olds are allowed to do, like join the military, buy a gun, get married without their parents' consent, hunt and be charged as an adult for a crime. Why limit just their tobacco use, they ask.

"Lawmakers mistakenly believe they are protecting youths when they restrict them from (and punish them for) behaviors that are perfectly legal for adults," writes Mike Males, senior researcher for San Francisco's Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, in the Los Angeles Times. …

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