The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging policymakers to raise the minimum age people are allowed to buy nicotine products, whether they are cigarettes or electronic cigarettes —suggesting the proper age would be 21.
They argue that most people start smoking while they are teens, and changing the policies could prevent more teenagers from becoming smokers every year. Nevertheless, the number of kids trying tobacco has declined since the 1970’s, as reported by CNN.
According to statistics from the Institute of Medicine, 4.2 million years of life will be lost among the next generation of American adults due to nicotine consumption. By setting a new minimum age, the study said it would prevent nearly 250,000 premature deaths and 50,000 deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019.
Moreover, researchers say that health benefits would be even greater if the minimum age gets raised to 25, by which the study estimates that the number of today smokers would decline 16 percent. In fact, teenagers, especially between 15 and 17 years old, are the most propense to get addicted to tobacco, as their brain is still developing.
The American Academy of Pediatrics called the report, “A crucial contribution to the debate on tobacco access for young people”. In advertising and marketing strategies, tobacco companies always remember people to “use tobacco safely,” but Dr. Sandra Hassink said that “there is no safe way to use tobacco,” according to CNN.
The FDA, who encouraged researchers to make the report, is not allowed to raise the age limit nationwide. Nonetheless, in four states the minimum age is 19, as in some local jurisdictions like New York City is already 21.
Also, the AAP report encourages tobacco companies to create more child-proof packaging, to keep kids away —specially from drinking the liquid nicotine used in electronic cigarettes. A half of teaspoon of this liquid can kill an average-size kid, according to the AAP.
The AAP concludes the report with the importance of protecting children and teens from tobacco products, saying “It is one of the most important things that a society can do to protect children’s health. Tobacco is unique among consumer products in that it severely injures and kills when used exactly as intended.”