Each day in the United States, 580 children under the age of 18 become regular daily smokers and a third of those children die prematurely from smoking. If trends continue, 5.6 million of today’s youth will die prematurely from a smoking related illness.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death killing more than 480,000 people a year in the United States. It causes cancer, heart disease, respiratory issues, and other health issues. Tobacco also costs the U.S. as much as $170 billion in health care each year. Lawmakers in California voted to raise the smoking age to 21 on March 10 2016. If California Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, California will be the second state to increase the smoking age after Hawaii.

Raising the smoking age to 21-years-old would come with significant benefits. It has the potential to greatly decrease the amount of users who start smoking during young.

adulthood and would lesson nicotine dependent youth. Raising the age to 21 would also increase the age gap between adolescents initiating tobacco use and those who can legally provide them with tobacco products by helping to keep tobacco out of schools. It could also simplify identification checks for retailers since many state ID’s indicate if a person is under the age of 21.

Individual cities have already introduced a smoking age of 21. New York City, Chicago, Boston and Cleveland are some of the 135 cities that have chosen to increase the age.

Increasing the smoking age would reap the biggest benefit in terms of controlling nicotine among the United States population. More people would be less likely to develop the addictive habit as most adult smokers developed their smoking habit before they turned 21. Those aged 18-21 are the most targeted audience among the tobacco industry. Raising the smoking age to 21 would not only save lives, but significantly help the economy and prevent illnesses acquired by daily smoking.

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