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The main objection to the Tobacco 21 laws is that they restrict the freedom of people between the ages of 18 and 20 who could previously legally purchase tobacco products. Critics say it is inconsistent to deny 18- to 20-year-olds the freedom to buy tobacco while treating them as mature enough to marry, vote and serve in the military. “If you`re old enough to fight and die for your country at the age of 18, you should be able to choose whether or not to buy a legal product,” one lobbyist argued during California congressional hearings.17 A critic of a proposal in Massachusetts called the laws “stupid and condescending” and said they were inconsistent. Allow someone to vote but not buy cigarettes: “When you`re old enough to figure out who should be elected, you can decide if you want to smoke. » 18 9 Schneider 2016 – Schneider SK, Buka SL, Dash K, Winickoff JP, O`Donnell L. Reduce smoking among young people in the Community after raising the minimum age to sell tobacco to 21. Tobacco control. 2016;25(3):355-359. Another objection might be that limiting it to a younger age, such as 19, could reduce social transfers and increase individual freedom. Due to the relative novelty of these laws, there are no comparative studies showing that public health benefits could not be achieved with a lower age limit. However, evidence from modelling studies suggests that a lower age would be less effective. In its report, the National Academy of Medicine estimated that raising the minimum age of sale to 19 would have only a “modest” impact on reducing social sources for those under 18. According to the National Academy of Medicine, raising the minimum age of sale to 21 for initiation of smoking by minors would be “significantly higher” than raising it to 19.2 In particular, they estimated that the reduction in initiation by persons under 15 years of age and persons aged 15 to 17 years would be 5% and 10%, respectively.

or when the age was raised to 19, compared to 15% or 25% if it was increased to 21.2 One possible reason for this difference is that, although the majority of high school students are 18 or younger, a significant proportion of people over the age of 18 are still enrolled in high school – and therefore likely to be on social networks with people under 18.2 Several U.S. jurisdictions have recently passed laws raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21 (Tobacco Laws 21). While these laws have proven to be an effective way to reduce teen smoking, their adoption and possible expansion have been controversial. Critics have objected to these laws, arguing that they excessively interfere with individual freedom and irrationally and paternalistically restrict the freedom of 18- to 20-year-olds who were previously legally able to purchase tobacco products. Increasing the MLTA to 21 can reduce tobacco sales.13, 14, 15 In a Hawaiian study, T21 appears to reduce sales of cigars and menthol cigarettes, which are disproportionately smoked by people of color and youth.16 A study by Needham, MA, suggests that reductions in smoking rates and cigarette purchases are greatest during the first phase of implementation of a T21 policy, although reductions can last at least four years.9 In 2009, Congress enacted the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad powers to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. As passed, it applied to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.6 In 2016, the FDA established a rule that extended its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco.7 Following the adoption of this rule, No tobacco product could be sold to a person under the age of 18. CDC`s Tobacco Monitoring and Evaluation System (STATE) contains a wealth of information about the MLSA Act in each state and territory, as well as in DC. This information is updated quarterly and includes provisions such as minimum age of sale, law enforcement agency, and penalties for violations in each jurisdiction. According to the STATE system, prior to the passage of Federal Act T21 on December 20, 2019, 19 states, 2 territories (Guam and Palau), and DC had already passed laws increasing their MLSA for tobacco products to age 21.

Since the passage of federal law T21, 20 additional states and 1 territory (Northern Mariana Islands) have increased their MLSA for tobacco products to age 21. As of June 30, 2022, 43 jurisdictions (39 states, 3 territories, and DC) have issued a 21-year MLSA for the purchase of tobacco products, but 10 retailers in jurisdictions that have not increased their MLSA to 21 must continue to comply with federal T21. 13 Liber 2020 – Liber AC, Xue Z, Cahn Z, Drope J, Stoklosa M. The adoption of Tobacco 21 has reduced sales of cigarette brands purchased by youth: a translation of Population Health Survey data to better understand market data for policy analysis. Tobacco control. 2020. On 20 January 2019, the President signed a law amending the Federal Law on Food, Medicines and Cosmetics and raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell tobacco products – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to people under the age of 21. Restricting young people`s access to tobacco has been shown to be effective in preventing the onset and regularity of tobacco use. In the past, efforts to reduce youth access have focused on disrupting retail sales to those under 18, including increased oversight of retailers to promote compliance with minimum age requirements and eliminate vending machines and other self-selling.

Since 2001, these strategies have resulted in a significant decrease (from 19.0% to 12.6%) in the prevalence of adolescent smokers who report habitually buying their own cigarettes in a store.11 However, these regulations do not address “social sources” of tobacco, such as borrowing or purchasing knowledge that reaches the minimum purchasing age. Today, smokers under the age of 18 cite social sources as the most common method of obtaining cigarettes.2,15,16 According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly two-thirds (63.3%) of youth aged 12 to 17 who smoked in the past month had given money to others to buy cigarettes for them. Restricting access to these social sources of tobacco is therefore crucial to reducing smoking rates among young people. Raising the minimum age to 21 to avoid harm also sets a strong historical precedent in setting the minimum drinking age in the United States. After prohibition was repealed, most states set their legal drinking age (MLDA) at 21 (MLDA 21), which is the current voting age. When the Twenty-sixth Amendment was passed in 1971, lowering the voting age to 18, several states also lowered their MLDA. However, many studies have shown that a lower MLDA is associated with an increase in motor vehicle deaths.32 In response, many states have increased their MLDA to ages 19, 20, or 21. Ultimately, in 1984, the federal government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which requires states to set their MLDA at 21 or risk losing 10% of their annual federal highway allowance.33 Raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 can significantly restrict access, Because minors are less likely to have peers over 20 and buy for them. as peers over the age of 17.

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