October 19, 2015

Pa. bill would raise age for buying smokes from 18 to 21

Philadelphia legislator proposes measure to raise minimum age for buying tobacco

Health News Smoking
02172015_smoker_AP.jpg Darron Cummings, File/AP

Tobacco kills one in 10 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

If you're not old enough to go to a bar, you may not be able to buy a pack of smokes either if a proposed bill passes the Pennsylvania legislature.

As Newsworks reported, the measure would make it illegal for someone under 21 to buy tobacco in the state, up from the current legal age of 18.

The bill was introduced by state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, a Democrat from Philadelphia, who argued that "tobacco has more long-term effects than alcohol in many people."

"Studies show that the vast majority of those who smoke daily began before the age of 19," she said in a statement. "Restricting access to tobacco products until age 21 should lower the smoking rate in the commonwealth."

On such study, an Institute of Medicine report published in March, estimated that raising the legal minimum age to 21 would decrease the rates of tobacco use by 12 percent in today's teenagers by the time they became adults.

"If the (minimum legal age) were raised now to 21 nationwide, there would be approximately 223,000 fewer premature deaths, 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer, and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost for those born between 2000 and 2019," the report projected.

Another bill under consideration would set a minimum age of 18 to buy e-cigarettes. Pennsylvania doesn't yet have any age restrictions for the purchase of e-cigs.