Dear Editorial Board,
I disagree with your March 15 editorial “Proposed law to raise smoking age ineffective, unnecessary.” First, raising the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 is an evidence-based strategy for reducing the prevalence of tobacco consumption. Ninety-five percent of adult smokers start before age 21, when the brain is most susceptible to nicotine. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry targets young adults ages 18 to 21, and spent $9.6 billion on total marketing in 2012 alone. Last year’s report from the Institute of Medicine suggested that raising the sales age would be an effective public health measure. Second, 135 localities in nine states have already adopted this rule, including the state of Hawaii, Boston, New York City and San Francisco starting June 1. Third, just because you don’t agree with this particular bill doesn’t mean you should dismiss all six tobacco control bills currently on the Governor’s desk. Regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco products, allowing counties to raise local tobacco taxes and ensuring all schools are tobacco-free are common-sense measures to reduce the impact of the tobacco industry on Californians.
Doctoral student in epidemiology in the Fielding School of Public Health