When June 1 hits, anyone in San Francisco looking to buy tobacco products must be at least 21, a moderate raise from 18, the legal age in the majority of the country.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the legislation on Tuesday. San Fran joins some other major metropolitans like Boston and New York in raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Hawaii became the first U.S. state to implement the age change back on January 1.
A few years difference doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a world of difference in that particular demographic. Teenagers — especially between ages 15 and 17 — are most vulnerable to addiction, at a time when their brains are still developing, according to a report released last year by the Institute of Medicine. It would also reduce second-hand smoke, which 48% of middle school and high school students in the United States are exposed to, despite never smoking in their lives.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is one of many groups strongly advocating increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 nationwide. They figure it would result in nearly 250,000 fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019, according to the Institute of Medicine report.
“Tobacco (is) arguably the most addictive substance on the planet, which has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, in any way, shape or form,” said CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
“No matter what your age, smoking is one of the single worst things you can do to your body.”
If you need a kick in the butt to kick your nicotine cravings, take advantage of the tools and tips at SmokeFree.gov.