The Legal Age to Smoke

For some teens, when they finally turn 18, one of the first things they may want to do with their new “freedom” is try to out cigarettes. But since 2014, most states in the U.S., including Illinois, passed the Tobacco 21 Ordinance that changed the legal age to purchase cigarettes to 21. However, I believe the legal age to purchase cigarettes should be reverted back to 18.

It is true, of course that some states in the U.S. may have a high teen smoking rate, that can lead many individuals towards a path of addiction and illness. However, Illinois is a state that already had a below-average teen smoking rate before the legal age was changed to eighteen. Thus, changing the legal age to purchase cigarettes wouldn’t make much of a difference in the high school smoking rates.

Of even greater importance is the funding spent to enforce the age change could be spent better elsewhere. The amount in taxes cigarettes give the state is of more significant value. In the Chicago area, the most populated area in Illinois, state-county-city tax rates result in the highest per pack tax in the U.S. at $6.16. Changing the legal age to twenty-one reduces the amount in tax revenue the state can make if it were still legal to sell cigarettes to 18-year olds. Adding that, Chicago could use the extra money profited from selling cigarettes to people younger than 21.

Finally, most 18 year olds or high school smokers aren’t even smoking real cigarettes. Most new smokers now lean towards e-cigarettes, vaping, and JUUL. These new methods of smoking reduce the harms of smoking cigarettes due to them having less or no nicotine in them. Health risk issues caused by smoking was the major factor in changing the legal age to smoke to 21, but these new methods highly reduce health issues teens or adults can get through smoking regular cigarettes.

The legal age to purchase cigarettes is currently 21, but should be changed back to 18 like it was before. For some teens, turning eighteen means be able to do adult things, and one of those things is smoking cigarettes. For some 18-year olds that has been taken away from us and postponed until we turn 21, making us feel like we are still just children.