California Medical Association proposes raising smoking age to twenty-one
March 22, 2002
Filed under Archives
Remember the thrill of turning eighteen? At last you could help choose your country’s leaders. You were finally able to waste money on lottery tickets. And yes, if you were so inclined, you could legally buy a pack of cigarettes and puff away to your heart’s content.But if the California Medical Association gets its way, that last perk may be reserved for those twenty-one and over in the Golden State.
During its annual meeting in Anaheim on Feb. 24, the CMA voted unanimously in favor of raising the age for tobacco purchase from 18 to 21. Although there is no pending legislation to do so at this time, the group – comprised of over 35,000 physicians – plans to lobby the state government to take action.
According to Dr. Jack Lewin of the CMA, cracking down on teenage smoking is the main goal of their proposal. “We think this particular issue will send a great message,” Lewin said. “California sets the tone, sets the stage for these kinds of changes for the whole nation. It’s time we move the legal age to purchase tobacco up the age of 21.”
Currently only Alabama, Alaska, and Utah enforce a higher tobacco purchasing age than 18; the consumer must be 19 in these states.
California already has the most stringent laws on tobacco use in the nation. It is the only state to completely prohibit smoking in bars and all private workplaces, and one of only two states to prohibit tobacco advertisements within 1000 feet of school buildings.
According to California State Senator Joe Dunn, raising the legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 will limit high school students’ access to tobacco products. Also, use on college campuses may decline.
The reactions of Guilford students to the proposal have been mixed. Alison Kleeb, a junior, expressed her strong support of the plan. “I’m against smoking in general anyway,” she said. “It needs to be cracked down on so that it will be seen as less acceptable-especially by people our age and younger.”
Junior Natia Rostomashvili, a smoker, wasn’t as enthused: “When you turn 18 in this country, you’re legally an adult. You should have the right to decide for yourself whether to smoke or not.”
If the efforts of the CMA succeed, Californians may have to see that particular right vani