After considering the impact of increased usage of tobacco products among teenagers on public health, state senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) has introduced legislation that would increase the minimum smoking age in California to 21 from 18.
Hernandez, who is an optometrist, has the support from many health groups, including the California Medical Assn., the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Assn. It is considered that despite having such strong support, the bill would face strong opposition from the tobacco industry.
“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”, affirmed Hernandez.
Every year, smoking kills more than 40,000 Californians, revealed Kimberly Amazeen, vice president for the American Lung Assn. in California. As per Amazeen, 21,300 California kids start smoking every year.
This is the main reason for which they need to take bold steps in order to reduce tobacco use among youngsters. There are many who are not in the favor of the bill and one among them is Robert Best, western regional representative of The Smoker’s Club.
He was of the view that it is quite hilarious that leaders in Sacramento do not have anything better to do than continuously attacking smokers as a minority.
Tobacco firm Altria opposes any effort that the states make to change the minimum smoking age. The US Food and Drug Administration is also carrying out a study through the Institute of Medicine (IOM). It is scheduled to report its findings to Congress on the public health implications of increasing the minimum age this year.