Keeping in view the ill effects of smoking on the health on people, lawmakers are leaving no stone unturned to dissuade people from doing so. Lawmakers in the state of California have proposed a new bill which proposes to raise the legal age of smoking in the state from 18 to 21, hoping it will bring down the overall smoking rates and also health care costs associated with the usage of tobacco.
The CDC has already listed tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death attributing 480,000 deaths every year in the United States to smoking alone. An additional 41,000 people lose lives as a result of secondhand smoke exposure. That comes to 1,300 deaths every day!!!
“We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them. That is why I believe we need legislation like SB 151,” said state Senator Ed Hernandez while introducing the bill on Thursday.
A report released by WalletHub last week has also pointed out that Californians who smoke spend to the tune of $23 billion for direct health care costs and lost productivity combined.
The bill, if passed, will make California the first state within the US to raise the minimum smoking age to 21. New York City and Healdsburg have done so, but only on the municipal level. Several states, including Utah, Maryland and Colorado. rejected similar proposals last year.
Several groups like the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Lung Association are supporting the bill SB151, while at the same time also pushing for a $2-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes.
Tim Gibbs, Senior Director of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, reported in the news release that ‘Big Tobacco’ was aware of the fact that 90percent of the smokers get hooked on to the ciggies as teenagers. Raising the legal age of making tobacco products available to them, he hopes, will make it difficult (if not impossible) for youngsters to get cigarettes and thus help in reducing the number of lifetime tobacco addicts.