OPINION: California should not raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21

This sticker is placed where ever tobacco products may be bought. Fines for violating this law can be up to $75 and 30 hours of community service. (Austin Weatherman/ Lariat)

This sticker is placed where ever tobacco products may be bought. Fines for violating this law can be up to $75 with 30 hours of community service. (Austin Weatherman/ Lariat)

The California State Assembly should change its title to “mom” after passing SB151 which will be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill would require a minimum age of 21 to purchase cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and vaporizing devices.

It all started when Healdsburg, CA became the first city in the state to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 on December 4, 2014. The bold step by the town moved Sen. Ed Hernandez to introduce SB151, raising the age to buy tobacco to 21 statewide. Ever since that cold December day, getting tobacco out off kids’ hands has been their main directive.

During the process of the bill passing through legislation, Saddleback College became a “tobacco free” campus Aug. 17, 2016. San Francisco took a stand against tobacco, raising its legal age of purchase to 21. In the nation, 19 states have restricted tobacco only to users 21 and over.

So I can die for my country but I can’t take a drag off a cigarette or have a dip? If we take a stroll back in time to the 1920s in the days of Prohibition, we can see what the 18th Amendment did to the usage of alcohol. It did nothing. If not anything positive, it got tremendously worse.

At first, the movement proved to be a success leading to a 30 percent decrease in alcohol consumption, according to History.com, but the success only lasted so long. Criminal activity such as illegal production of alcohol, known as bootlegging, increased tremendously. Famous Chicago gangster Al Capone made $60 million dollars in bootlegging alone. People consumed 60 to 70 percent more of alcohol compared to the pre-prohibition levels of 30 percent rises.

Now are 18 year-olds going to start bootlegging cigarettes and causing trouble over a $5 high? Highly unlikely, but the point is this, kids are going to smoke whether you like it or not. Teenage rebellion isn’t a new concept.

Nearly nine out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 99 percent first tried smoking by age 26, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The study goes as far as in 2014, 73 percent of high school students and 56 percent of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time.

Young kids have always experimented with cigarettes and chewing tobacco, so does raising the legal age to buy the products make a difference? Stopping kids from smoking should start at home, parents being parents and showing their kids the side effects of smoking.

Twelve-year-olds whose parents smoked were more than two times as likely to begin smoking cigarettes on a daily basis between the ages of 13 and 21 than were children whose parents didn’t use tobacco, based a new study that looked at family influences on smoking habits, according to the University of Washington. It’s like tattoos, if your parents have them, you are more than likely to get them.

Passing laws to take away privileges of legal adults has no effect on actually combating kids getting addicted to nicotine. If lawmakers did want to make a change without pissing off a generation by creating “nanny” laws to restrict them, go after the tobacco companies themselves. Attack the problem at the source: stop the toxic, cancerous chemicals from entering the product. California sues over everything, why not tobacco?

Defeating big tobacco companies and reducing the amount of tobacco products starts with the parents. If mothers and fathers cannot see that their addiction is promoting their children to start at a younger age, do what federal and state programs already do and use schools to promote anti-tobacco campaigns.

Show the kids what happens when you choose incorrectly. Even after grotesque pictures of the effects of smoking and kids still want to participate in smoking, attack the manufactures for putting in toxic chemicals in what was an organic product.

The fate of 18 year-olds smoking cigarettes is now in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown as his signature seals the state wide raise in age.

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