The minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes in New York City and a number of counties in the state including Nassau, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester, is already 21. Subsequently, New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is now proposing raising the state’s minimum age aswell. Additionally, said Cuomo, he wants to clarify the health department’s authority to ban the sale of certain e-liquid flavours, except menthol, that could be enticing to the younger generation.
If it passes, this legislation would ban sale of vaporizers and other electronic cigarettes together with tobacco products (since they are inaccurately regulated as such), to anyone under 21. The governor says that New York has made “great strides” in the battle against teen smoking, however, he added, new products are threatening this progress.
Similarly, in the state of Ohio, a campaign called Tobacco 21 encourages cities across the state to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21. The executive director of Tobacco 21, Katherine Ungar, said that raising the minimum purchasing age could help keep tobacco products out of the hands of minors, as eighteen-year-olds are more likely to be involved in high school social circles than 21-year-olds. “It is extremely important that we are not addicting our kids,” she said.
Experts have pointed out that the illegality of other substances does not stop youngsters from consuming them, it just pushes them to obtain them illegally, at times from the black market where they are unregulated and possibly unsafe.
However in response to such efforts, Lindsey Stroud, the State Government Relations Manager at The Heartland Institute, has previously pointed out that the illegality of other substances does not stop youngsters from consuming them. On the contrary, it just pushes them to obtain these substances illegally, at times 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 said. Stroud added that this study indicated that alcohol remains “the substance most widely used by today’s teenagers,” while 35% of the study participants also reported using marijuana.
In an article on The Heartland’s Institute’s website, she had 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?” concluded the tobacco policy expert.
Cigarettes and safer alternatives should be regulated differently
Other experts keep pointing out that regulating e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products, keeps sending the wrong message to the public. Additionally, many anti-smoking activists have explained that although non-smoking youths should not have access to the devices, making vaping products unavailable to teens who are already smoking could prove counterproductive, as research keeps indicating that the devices are significantly safer than their combustible counterparts.
Read Further: 4NewYork