If approved, SB 1288 would prevent anyone below 21 from purchasing cigarettes, tobacco chew and vaping products. “Raising the age limit for smoking to 21 years is essential if we are serious about saving lives and reducing the cost of health care,” said Simmons. “In addition to the tragedy to smokers and their families caused by lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and emphysema, cigarette smoking burdens America’s healthcare system by nearly $170 billion annually in direct medical care for adults, according to the Center for Disease Control.”
Anyone caught infringing this regulation would face 20 hours of community service for a first offense, and 40 hours for a second offense. On the other hand, vendors caught selling tobacco products to anyone below the age limit, would face a $500 for a first offense, and up to $1,000 for a second offense.
Age limits have never stopped teens from obtaining regulated substances
Alcohol and marijuana are both illegal for minors in every state, yet therey are the most commonly consumed substances by minors.
On a different note, earlier this month a vaping policies’ expert from the Heartland Institute explained why efforts to raise the tobacco age limit to 21 may be counterproductive. Lindsey Stroud, who is a State Government Relations Manager at the institute, pointed out that the illegality of other substances does not stop youngsters from consuming them.
Stroud said that on the contrary, it just pushes them to obtain these substances illegally, oftentimes from the black market where they are unregulated and possibly unsafe. “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,” while 35% of the study participants also reported using marijuana. Stroud pointed out that this is significant as 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 concluded.
Florida lawmakers are expected to review the bill when they gather for a 60-day legislative session Jan. 9.
Read Further: Orlando Sentinel