In a major public health victory that will save money and lives, California is poised to raise the legal age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21.
National data shows that 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. What makes this especially concerning is that the brains of people under 21 are still developing, making them more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine.
In fact, adolescents exhibit markers of drug dependence more quickly and at lower levels of cigarette consumption than adults. Vulnerability to nicotine addiction is one of the reasons adolescents continue smoking.
Raising the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 is a promising strategy to protect California’s kids from the lifelong consequences of addiction to nicotine and tobacco.
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A March 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that raising the tobacco age to 21 would result in a 25 percent decline in smoking initiation by 15-17 year olds and have other health benefits.
Berkeley, San Francisco, and parts of Santa Clara County already passed the measure. Gov. Brown should sign the bill.
Nancy Hollingsworth, CEO Saint Agnes Hospital, Fresno