BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and Richard Vial are two Oregon legislators that proposed the rise of legal smoking age from 18 to 21. This attempt is meant to limit the access of teenagers to tobacco.
Steiner Hayward is a physician who lost two family members because of diseases related to smoking. She thinks that a disease is better prevented than cured, thus she proposed this initiative that is meant to limit the access to tobacco and other products that contain nicotine.
Vial also lost family members because of smoking. He regards this control of tobacco products as a measure of safety, like seatbelts for example, which contributes to the well-being of the society.
There is also a fiscal argument in defense of the raising of legal smoking age. The costs that follow the lost productivity and the effects on the wellness of children are inestimable.
Research provided by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office found that the brain of people younger than 26 is more likely to develop addiction. Therefore, if a person did not start smoking before the age of 21, he or she may probably never take it up.
If the bill passes, it would impose $50 penalties for clerks and $500 penalties for managers who sell tobacco to minors. Also, those who are of legal age and give tobacco to minors are susceptible to penalties similar to those for the clerks.
The penalties will only be civil and not criminal, since tobacco companies usually choose as target low-income communities. Also, store clerks are usually either people who work hard for their families or people who try to earn some extra money while they are studying, therefore the officials would not want to pass them the burden of criminal offenses.
Hawaii was the first state that raised the legal smoking age to 21, back in 2015. The next state which followed was California. Then, several other 210 cities and counties took their example, including Boston or New York City.
At the moment, no city or county in Oregon raised the smoking age. The concern towards smoking is understandable. At the smoking rate of today, about 68,000 Oregon kids who are alive today would die in the future of illnesses related to smoking.