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November 29th, 2015:

Raising The Smoking Age To 21: Both Kansas Cities Pass Ordinances – Who’s Next?

City officials in Kansas City, Missouri, have spoken: in an 11 to one vote, they elected to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 under a new ordinance. According to news station KSHB, young smokers in the area will now have to travel a little further to purchase nicotine products, tobacco products, and rolling papers. The ordinance includes the purchase of e-vapors and vapor products.

“The reason we think it’s important is because, by the very simple action of changing the ordinance, it will have the dramatic effect of keeping cigarettes out of the hands of our youngest citizens. I’m not just talking about folks who are 18,” said Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President Jim Heeter.

Following suit, Kansas City, Kansas, passed a similar ordinance, also raising the smoking age from 18 to 21. Neither ordinance raises the legal smoking age, but they do raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and smoking related products.

The move to raise the smoking age has now caught on in nine cities and towns throughout the United States; some raising the minimum age to 19 and others to 21. The movement appears to be backed by scientific data that indicates raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco could save lives. According to the CDC, 95 percent of habitual smokers began smoking before the age of 21.

Not everyone is happy with the recent changes to the minimum smoking age, however. Big tobacco, for one, is likely to fight it tooth and nail. Retailers that sell tobacco products and e-vapors are also reeling from the consequences.

Micheal Mullen, a manager at Aqueous Vapor in the Kansas City voiced his concerns.

Employees at gas stations and convenience stores have also spoken out against raising the smoking age, since they are typically the ones left to enforce it by checking IDs every time they make a sale. They’ve spoken out against being “babysitters” for adults who should be able to make their own decisions concerning smoking.

Will Other Cities and States Follow Suit and Raise the Minimum Smoking Age?

Massachusetts is next on the list of places considering raising the minimum smoking age to 21. The move comes after a number of different cities and communities in Massachusetts have already raised the minimum age to 21.

If the bill in Massachusetts passes, it would become the second state to raise the minimum smoking age, statewide. Earlier this year, Hawaii became the first state to raise the minimum age to 21, although the law won’t go into effect until January 1, 2016. The law in Hawaii makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to smoke or purchase tobacco or e-vapor products.

Per usual, politicians also seem to be on opposite ends of the debate on raising the minimum smoking age as well.

In favor of raising the age, Hawaii Governor David Ige said, “Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii state Rep Angus McKelvey said, “I can’t stand cigarette smoking. It’s disgusting. But to tell somebody you can go and fight for your country and get killed but you can’t have a cigarette, that’s the thing.”

Although the dangers of smoking cigarettes are widely accepted as fact, the notion that adults who are old enough to serve in the military aren’t old enough to purchase cigarettes is probably something that will be debated for a while.


Our Opinion: Raise smoking age limit to 21 in Massachusetts

Reducing teenage smoking is difficult because of ready access. Making it illegal for teens to buy tobacco products would largely address that problem.

The Legislature’s Public Health Committee is considering recommending that the legal age for smoking be raised from 18 to 21 next year and we urge the committee to do so and the Legislature to approve the change. Supporters site a March study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reporting that 90 percent of daily smokers first used tobacco products before the age of 19. Delaying that to whatever extent possible will reduce the number of smokers who contract cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other illnesses and lower the cost of treating them.

This is something that is coming anyway and a state-wide approach is preferable to a piecemeal one. In the Berkshires, Williamstown raised the age limit for the purchase of tobacco products to 21 in September and the Tri-Town Boards of Health, representing Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge, voted to do beginning January 2 of next year. Dr. Lester Hartman, a pediatrician from Needham, the first Massachusetts town to raise the limit to 21, told The Tri-Town Boards (Eagle, October 21) that tobacco use by high schoolers in Needham dropped three-fold after the age limit was raised.

The state’s convenience store and gas station operators are predictably opposed to this effort, but their concern is purely economic and lawmakers must look at the big picture, beginning with health issues. Given a choice, retailers would more than likely prefer a statewide age limit of 21 to a potpourri of age limits from town to town.

Whatever tax revenue is lost because of this change would be more than offset by reductions in the tens of millions of dollars now spent to confront tobacco-related illnesses, which raises health care costs for everyone, not just smokers. The change would also reduce the amount of suffering caused by those terrible illnesses. Raising the smoking limit to 21 should be a priority in 2016 for Beacon Hill.

Massachussetts Raises Smoking Age to 21

Massachusetts lawmakers are working on a new legislature that would raise the legal smoking age in the state from 18 to 21.

Massachusetts lawmakers decided to raise the state’s smoking age after Boston considered the new bill. Almost 60 representatives and senators have signed the proposed law stating that selling and smoking cigarettes to people under the age of 21 is illegal. Anyone who violates the law will be fined $100 to $300 for repeat violations.

According to the report, the bill, if singed into a law, will be implemented in early 2016. The bill aims to decrease the number of youngsters who are smoking.

A study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies revealed that 90 percent of daily smokers started smoking before the age of 19.

“It is our responsibility to do what we can to guide our young people and create a healthier future for all Bostonians,” said Mayor Marty Walsh. “We know the consequences of tobacco use are real and can be devastating.”

Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and spokeswoman at American Academy of Pediatrics, expressed her support for the proposed bill saying that it would not only lessen the number of tobacco smokers but would also save lives. However, the pediatrician also noted that good parenting is the best strategy against anti-smoking.

“I say raise it,” she told “It would translate not only into less tobacco use but less disease and death. But we’d save even more lives if parents did more talking to their kids – about tobacco, about life as a teen, about anything and everything.”

In the United States, Hawaii was the first state to implement the smoking age to 21 this year. States like California and Washington have also considered implementing the same bill.

Cigarette sales to fall

The new chief executive of Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corp. expects industry sales to decline following the implementation of a graphic health warning on cigarette packs. PMFTC president Roman Militsyn told reporters last week sales would drop but the industry would survive.

“With graphic health warnings as a regulatory measure, we expect there is an impact on the industry as experienced by other countries,” Militsyn said at the sidelines of the 9th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards in Pasay City.

“We expect some decline [on sales] but we also believe that the industry will continue to be there and that is a good potential in terms of the profitable growth of the industry going forward,” Militsyn added.

He said while some people had become conscious of their health, other adults were still smoking.

Militsyn also said the implementation of the sin tax gave the tobacco industry “a good predictability.”

“We think that it is a good roadmap for the fiscal environment for the industry going forward,” he said.

Militsyn said the review of the sin tax law next year had allowed the company to work with the government and other industry players in reducing illicit trade in the country.

“I think what is important while the sin tax law continues to roll out and tax continues to increase, we have to make sure that illicit trade particularly contraband and counterfeit will remain under control, and that’s where we continue to work with the government agencies with the whole industry trying to make sure that illicit trade overall is under control,” he said.

The London-based Oxford Economics released a report in September, showing that one in every five cigarettes were illicit consumption in 2014 and cost the government around P22.5 billion in foregone revenue.

Domestic illicit trade, according to Oxford, are cigarettes that are manufactured by the trademark holder, but are illegally sold and consumed in the same market, without the payment of excise taxes and value-added tax.

Of the total 102.3 billion cigarettes consumed in 2014, both legal and illicit, 19.9 billion sticks were domestic illicit.

“So these are the numbers, you can agree or disagree with them but still we are talking about double digits. It is quite an important challenge we believe [that] important to pay attention to,” Militsyn said.

“We’re always being ready and we continue to work with the government and ready to work with all industry players in order to make sure that we address this issue so that the tax stamps are ready to promote the brand and illicit trade and contraband is lessen in the country,” he added.