An independent study compiled for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that if Congress increases the tobacco purchase age to 21 from 18, it will drastically cut the number of teenagers between 15 and 17-years old who start smoking.
The power to increase the tobacco purchase age on a national scale is held by the Congress, which asked that the FDA commission the report from the Institute of Medicine.
The study was ran by doctors, public policy officials and researchers and it concluded that increasing the age above 18 will affect most 15- to 17-year-olds. According to US Surgeon General statistics from 2014, more than 400,000 deaths are caused by smoking in the United States every year and the habit reduces life expectancy by 10 years.
The Institute of Medicine report said that raising the legal age for tobacco purchase to 21 would reduce the number of young adults and adolescents with smoking-caused health problems, adding that the benefits would be observed in the following 30 years after the measure’s approval.
The study estimates that raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 at the present time would result in a 10% decrease in “lung cancer deaths, premature deaths and years of life lost from cigarette smoking” for people born after the year 2000.
According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Surgeon General, almost nine out of 10 smokers light their first cigarette before turning 18 and 99 percent start by 26. Apparently, it takes less nicotine for teenagers – compared to adults – to become addicted, the document added.
Tobacco companies, like the Altria Group Inc., who makes Marlboro, said it opposed state and local efforts to raise the minimum age, while other, like Reynolds American Inc., mentioned that it would leave the matter to local or state authorities.
The age limit raise would mean almost $2 billion losses for the tobacco industry, 2% of the entire business, according to another research that adds momentum to the movement for the raise of legal age limit for buying tobacco products.
Several cities recently raised the minimum age to purchase to 21. Among them are New York City, Evanston, Ill., Columbia, Mo., and other 50 towns in Massachusetts. The majority of states have an 18-years old minimum age limit for tobacco purchases. In four states the bar is set at 19.
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