San Francisco sparks national debate by raising the smoking age to 21

A unanimous decision increased the age from 18 to 21 on cigarettes and e-cigarettes

Smoking, California, San Francisco, 21

[AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File]

Californian public health advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to raise the legal smoking age to 21, for both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes as well.

The move was taken in order to counteract the popularity of vaping among teenagers in the bay area, which has doubled in recent years. Furthermore, raising the smoking age to 21 will act as a further barricade to keeping cigarettes out of the local school system.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has welcomed the decision, after publishing studies revealing that teenagers who start smoking are more likely to form addictions that will render them lifelong smokers due to developmental changes in the brain.

California has long been the most active state when it comes to changing its smoking laws. The west coast state was the first in the US to introduce a smoking ban indoors and at restaurants and bars, popular regulations that have rolled out across many more states.

A state-wide bill that would raise the smoking age to 21 encountered a number of difficulties when it was debated last summer, but now new version of that legislation will be debated in Sacramento in the coming weeks.

San Francisco is not, however, the first US city to ban those under the age of 21 from accessing cigarettes, with New York already enforcing a ban. The state of Hawaii also passed similar laws last year, with a growing impetus behind a national roll-out of the legislation – which, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, has a 75% approval rating, even among smokers.

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