California Debates Smoking Age

Governor Jerry Brown contemplates approving bill to raise smoking age to 21.


Justin Angellar

Tobacco use and cigarette smoking is a highly debated topic in 2016. We are educating people more and more about the ill effects of smoking, and anybody can research the impacts of smoking on the human body with a simple internet search. Lung cancer, throat cancer and heart disease are just a few from the long list of reasons not to smoke. Kids are now taught about this as early as elementary school.

So, with the knowledge that smoking contributes to the development of multiple types of cancer, young people aren’t smoking anymore, right? Wrong. Each day 3,200 people under 18 try their first cigarette according to California lawmakers have recently proposed a new bill in an attempt to make that number smaller.

The bill to raise the legal smoking age to 21 has just been voted in and all it needs is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. There are many different opinions on whether or not this should become Californian law.

On one side, there are potential health benefits for California. This side of the issue believes that a higher smoking age will reduce youth smoking substantially, which will in turn make for a healthier California.

Sophomore Ricky Freeman believes that “people should be more matured before they make those decisions, cigarettes can affect you for the rest of your life.”

“I think, across the board, we will see substantial improvements in people’s health, life expectancy (and) decreased medical care costs,” says Joel Moskowitz, current director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Community and Family Health. “If they don’t start smoking as young adults, they’re probably not going to start smoking.”

However, there are many who believe that the bill will be ineffective and act as a significant reduction of American liberties.

Sophomore Mason Johnson believes “when you are 18 you are an adult, you should be able to make your own decisions.”

Limiting freedoms in America will always be met with opposition. Assemblyman Keith Richman believes that “people are going to wonder whether 18-year-olds who can join the armed forces should have the right to smoke and make that choice on their own.”

Governor Brown has a very important and difficult decision in front of him. To pass the bill through would cause criticism for lessening American liberties for an idea that may not even work. To deny it would make the other side angry by not allowing a bill that could improve Californian health and save lives.