A number of states and localities have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21, while many others are considering such a legislation. Proponents of this motion say that such legislations will diminish smoking rates among young people, “but there is little evidence to conclude that such regulations will deter youth consumption,” said Lindsey Stroud in an article on The Heartland Institute website.

Stroud continued by pointing out that the illegality of other substances does not stop young adults from consuming them. “The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in its Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs 58% of 12th graders reported consuming alcohol in 2015.” She added that this study found that alcohol has remained “the substance most widely used by today’s teenagers,” whilst the study authors also pointed out that 35% of the study participants reported using marijuana.

Stroud pointed out that alcohol and marijuana are both illegal for minors in every state, yet this has not stopped these youngsters from obtaining and consuming the substances. “Why would lawmakers expect different results when it comes to tobacco cigarettes?” she added.

Youngsters are likely to purchase products on the back market

Prohibiting persons under 21 from purchasing tobacco and ENDS products will only lead to the “the creation or expansion of a black-market”.
In line with what several other public health experts have pointed out, in Stroud’s opinion, prohibiting persons under 21 from purchasing tobacco and ENDS products will only lead to the “the creation or expansion of a black-market”.
The black market, as anticipated by a 2016 study, could feed a criminal network and force vapers to purchase products that are unregulated and possibly unsafe. This would also make it difficult for authorities to evaluate the dynamics of the vaping market since a substantial part would be occurring unofficially and beyond any governmental control.

Smoking rates are declining anyway

Stroud pointed out that additionally, earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that “from 2011 to 2016, current cigarette smoking declined among middle and high school students.” Hence she points out, “there is no reason why local and state governments should increase the smoking age, as youth rates are currently declining without these changes.”

Interestingly, the same CDC data had indicated that an increase in vaping has a lot to do with this decrease in smoking. In the same time period when smoking rates amongst high school students were cut in half,  vaping amongst the same age group had increased from 1.5% to a peak of 16.0% in 2015. But this is not all!

Additionally, the percentage of high school students using e-cigarettes has also dropped. For the first time since the advent of electronic cigarettes, vaping decreased from 16.0% in 2015 to 11.3% in 2016, while smoking in that same period dropped from 9.3% to 8.0%.

Read Further: The Heartland Institute 

By Diane Caruana and published here.