Raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes in ohio to 21 would save lives, researchers say

COLUMBUS, Ohio Raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21 would save lives by preventing adolescents from ever taking up smoking, according to a new report.

The minimum age to buy tobacco products in Ohio and most of the country is 18. Many of those who legally buy cigarettes share them with much younger people, the report states.

The report from the Ohio State University College of Public Health is the first that examines the effects of raising the minimum tobacco sales age in Ohio, the university said.

More than 50 municipalities, including New York City, have raised the age to buy tobacco products and at least eight states have proposals pending in their legislatures.

In 2013, more than one in five Ohio high school students and more than one in four juniors and seniors reported using some form of tobacco during the past 30 days, researchers write.

The paper focuses on Ohio and Franklin County, but the results would be the same for any region that raises the minimum sales age, the authors say.

Nearly all adult smokers began smoking by the age of 18 and almost no one starts smoking after 21, they write. Of those who begin smoking as youths, 80 percent will smoke into adulthood because of the powerful effects of nicotine, and one half of adult smokers will die prematurely from tobacco related diseases.

“The key point is that if people get through adolescence without smoking, it is highly unlikely they will ever start,” said Micah Berman, OSU assistant professor of public health and law, in a release. “The flip side of that is if they do start smoking in adolescence, everything we have learned about teen brain development shows that it will be much harder for them to quit later.”

Berman co authored the report with Rob Crane, clinical associate professor of family medicine, and Natalie Hemmerich, an attorney and postdoctoral fellow in public health.

In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched “The Real Cost” to educate youth about the harmful effects of tobacco use. The FDA said that every day in the United States more than 3,200 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 700 people under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers.

The Institute of Medicine, an independent organization that is part of the National Academies of Science, is scheduled to release a report on March 12 that will discuss raising the minimum age for tobacco sales, OSU said.

In 2005, Needham, Massachusetts became the first U.S. city to increase its tobacco sales age to 21. After the law passed, tobacco use among high school students dropped almost in half.

“The Needham example is powerful,” said Berman, who consulted with New York City officials before they adopted a minimum tobacco sales age of 21 in 2013. Because sales to people under age 21 account for only two percent of total cigarette sales, the economic impact to retailers would be minimal, the authors wrote.

In Ohio, the tobacco industry spends more than $1 million every day marketing its products, the report says. Meanwhile, Ohio spends less than nearly any other state on the delivery of messages that counter tobacco advertising.

Lawmakers abolished the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation in 2008.

Berman, Crane and Hemmerich cite numerous studies to support their conclusions. They said they did not receive funding from any tobacco control organizations to produce the report.

How to buy cigarettes online quickly: 13 steps (with pictures)

Make sure you’re legally able to buy cigarettes. As a general rule, it is a crime both to sell tobacco to a minor and to purchase tobacco if you are a minor. In the United States, all 50 states have laws that make it legal to sell tobacco to people under the age of 18. 1 Many other countries have similar laws in place. Though penalties for buying and consuming tobacco as a minor are mild compared to those for more serious types of crime, it’s still a very bad idea to buy cigarettes as a minor, as receiving a mark on your criminal record at a young age can cause problems down the line for example, when applying for college.

  • Typically, in the U.S., the immediate penalty for a minor who buys cigarettes is a fine or community service. 2 For the business that sells the cigarettes, the penalties can be more severe.
  • Most online vendors use a credit or debit card to pay for your order. In the U.S., you must be 18 to be able to have your own credit card, which is also the same age you must be to legally purchase cigarettes.