As of January 1st, the smoking age has been raised from 18 to 21 meaning you’ll have to be 21 years old to buy any type of tobacco products in the state. To some, this new law is a bit ridiculous.
“If you’re old enough to vote and go into the army and navy legally, I don’t think you should be said you can’t smoke cigarettes,” said Rogue Valley local Forest Winningham, 21. “I mean you’re legally an adult, you can vote for whose gonna be president.”
Winningham started smoking when he was a young teenager and described how other kids would always get their hands on cigarettes when the smoking age was 18.
According to the American Lung Association, many young kids receive cigarettes from peers, relying on older classmates who were of age to purchase tobacco products. The new law is meant to cut-off that peer supply chain in high school where most young smokers start. Raising the age to 21 was decided since most high school students don’t reach 21 by the time they graduate, thus eliminating students from being able to purchase tobacco products legally.
Still, one Southern Oregon University student believes this might have an adverse effect.
“It’s a forbidden fruit effect,” said Benjamin Thorton, 19. “It’s gonna be like underage drinking, people who smoke pot and stuff like that. There’s a lot of people who are 18, 19 years old who are just stocking up on cigarettes now because of this law.”
Thorton says that one of his friends bought five cartons of cigarettes before the new year.
Oregon is the fifth state to implement this law which is actually meant to target sellers rather than buyers. In the new measure, fines ranging from $50 to $1,000 will be given to people or businesses that sell tobacco to people under 21 years old. The American Lung Association says that by implementing this law, it could save as many as 223,000 lives for babies born between 2000 and 2019.
Winnigham understands that it’s meant to help people and by stopping young kids from picking up the habit or deciding to wait till their older to see if they really do want to smoke, it would be a huge benefit to them. But that doesn’t mean he thinks the new law will actually stop kids from smoking.
“It’s really not worth it but depends on how bad somebody wants a cigarette.”
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