Smoking age to 21 in Washington State
Research shows that teenagers in Washington State start to purchase tobacco at an early age. As a result, the Washington state’s top lawyer was set to unveil legislation seeking to raise legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years. If the bill would be passed successfully, then this will mirror the minimum age for alcohol and marijuana hence making Washington State the first state in the country to ban tobacco for people under age 21. According to Bob Ferguson; who is the Attorney General, he states that “The drive behind this is the health and well-being of our youth in the state of Washington; some other jurisdictions have raised the age and seen some real impact on youth smoking rates (Nunally, 2014).”
Reports showed that various municipalities across the country on the other hand have raised smoking age to 21. According to Ferguson and other lawmakers from the Senate, the bill to match the legal ages for marijuana and alcohol consumption was inspired by effectiveness of smoking bans in many cities nationwide. For instance, in 2005, the bill was passed in Needham, Massachusetts and in 2012; the age smoking rate had dropped significantly by 50 percent. Research also shows that Washington State has highest tobacco taxes over $3 as compared to other states to discourage young adults from purchasing. According to Phillip Morris, he argues out that in order to raise the legal age for tobacco purchases, the tobacco industry should work hand in hand with the government. This is because these industries mainly target young smokers who later may become lifelong smokers.
The positive results in regards to decrease in numbers of smokers have made many cities and counties to follow the suit as well. For example, New York City, New York, Hawaii County and many others have reported a drop of 45 percent of their high school smoking rate. However, in cities like New Jersey, Colorado and Utah, the bill to raise smoking age 21 failed two years after it was passed in 2012, and so they wanted the tobacco users to be at least 19 years or older (Nunally, 2014). Ferguson on the other hand argues that raising age to 21 would be costly if the bill happens to have been passed and so it might cost state government about $20 million a year in tobacco-tax revenues. Given that tobacco’s health effects are long-term, therefore the state’s healthcare system may take decades to reduce the number of people smoking. I think this is true because even today many State governments are spending a fluctuating amount of money year in year out to fight for tobacco use among teenagers.
Personally, I support the government in raising smoking age to 21 because research shows that the young adult brain develops between 18 and 21, which is highly susceptible to nicotine addiction. According to Ferguson, he says “The damage tobacco does to the lives and health of Washingtonians is devastating, Research shows that young adult brain still developing at the age of 18 and 21, and therefore it is highly susceptible to nicotine addiction. Ferguson adds by saying, we must do more to protect our youth from tobacco’s grip, and the bill is an important step toward keeping nicotine out of the hands of kids and young adults (Nunally, 2014).” Much as to be done to protect these teenagers from tobacco’s grip and the only way is to pass the bill which will be important measure to keep nicotine out of the hands of young adults. People who use nicotine usually become addicted and have been known to be spending huge amount of money to purchase these drugs. It is evident that the harmful consequences of using tobacco are clear, smoking kills 10,000 people every year and about $2 billion in health care costs are as a result of tobacco smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are various problems that come in as a result of smoking. Firstly, smokers are more likely to develop heart diseases and lung cancer than nonsmokers. Smoking also increases risks of bronchitis and for both coronary disease and stroke; the risks are 4 times that of nonsmokers. Other positive effects of raising smoking age to 21 in Washington State include a decrease in drunk-driving fatalities especially for young drivers as well as, cutting costs used for health for treatment. For example, reports from the U.S government shows that the state uses a lot of money for tobacco users each year to pay for their hospital bills; in one year, the state can spend like $3million, which is $40 million short of what CDC and prevention study recommended for an adequate effort. According to Ferguson, the measures introduced would restrict many teenagers from purchasing and possessing tobacco products to legal drinking age. This is important because it would have a great impact on other residents who take up smoking given that most smokers start using these drugs in their teenage years (Nunally, 2014).
Conversely, The American Cancer Society (ACS) on the other hand have shown a great concern in dealing with the issue; their main aim is to discourage people from lighting up at all-regardless of age by educating the teenagers the negative impacts of using drugs at an early age; which include, smoking increases chances of getting lung cancer, those who have become addicted to smoking often spend a lot of money in purchasing tobacco and paying for hospital bills. Creating awareness to the public by educating young adults the harmful consequences of using nicotine and tobacco will help them knowing what exactly they need to do; that is to completely do away with smoking for a better future or to continue with the habit and at the end they get diseases such as lung cancer (Nunally, 2014).
In conclusion, raising smoking age to 21 in Washington State will be of great significance not only to the young adults but also to the parents who take care of these children. We all understand that tobacco is very addictive and so most teenagers start using them at an early age, however what they do not know is that, too much use of it can later develop tobacco-related illness like heart diseases and cancer. Smoking is one of the most risky and harmful activities young people can engage in, and therefore, this should be a decision they make once they have had a chance to grow and mature. The measure could therefore drive a major decline in smoking addiction, thus saving lives as well as, reducing health care costs.
Nunnaly D. The Washington Times. Attorney General wants to raise Washington smoking age to 21; New York: Rosen Pub., 2007. Print.