The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new statements about tobacco and e-cigarettes Oct. 26, urging the government to change the age of sale to 21 nationwide. These statements outline public policy changes, clinical guidance for physicians to counsel families on ways to reduce exposure and dependence of tobacco and recommending the regulation of e-cigarettes.
“The developing brains of children and teens are particularly vulnerable to nicotine” according to Karen M. Wilson, chair of the AAP Section on Tobacco Control. They released these in the interest of protecting children from becoming another generation that’s addicted to nicotine.
Including upping the age, the statements also explained the Academy’s ideas to prevent children from having access to tobacco in general, such as child-proof packaging so curious children don’t ingest the toxic materials by accident. Poison control received more than 3,000 phone calls about children ingesting liquid nicotine last year —just half a teaspoon of it could have a fatal reaction on a toddler.
Increasing the age to purchase cigarettes will also prevent teenagers from buying tobacco for younger teens, hopefully a start to the end of young teens getting their hands on these deadly products.
The AAP recommends the use of e-cigarettes be regulated the same as other tobacco products. I think they should be seen the same, they shouldn’t be something that people can get away with buying just because it’s not a cigarette when it does the same damage to their body.
Since these recommendations are aimed to prevent youth from smoking, different flavors of tobacco will be outlawed as well. The different flavors offered only mask the actual flavor of the tobacco, making it more attractive and easier to smoke. The AAP hopes to make the idea of smoking an e-cigarette less attractive if there weren’t flavors like menthol, gummy bear, cotton candy, peach or grape.
I personally do not smoke cigarettes or use an e-cigarette, but I believe these suggestions the AAP are making are valid and should be taken into serious consideration. Cigarettes are a product that kills people or puts someone at risk of a serious disease. More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking, according to the Surgeon General. Knowing that, it seems absurd to me that people even want to buy tobacco products. Seeing the numbers of people who die every year because of smoking should be enough to make this change. When I see TV commercials featuring people who have had fingers and toes fall off, holes in their throats that they need to plug to talk or hearing someone struggle to breathe because of their tobacco use, it encourages me to never want to try the product.
“The century-long epidemic of cigarette smoking has caused an enormous, avoidable public health catastrophe in the United States,” the surgeon general stated in a report on health consequences of smoking.
The surgeon general believes that raising the prices of cigarettes is the most effective way to start a change. In 2009 ,the Tobacco Control Act was signed, allowing the FDA to regulate the sale of tobacco. The Surgeon General once had hopes for this to stop people from smoking, along with making them at least $10 a pack, but it clearly didn’t have too strong of an impact.
Tobacco kills people, and it’s something that is completely preventable. It’s sad to see businesses making millions off a product they know is going to slowly kill their customers. These new regulations could potentially decrease the amount of people who smoke and stop other generations from experimenting at a young age. “Protecting children from tobacco products is one of the most important things that a society can do to protect children’s health,” the AAP stated.
Hawaii is currently the only state that has made 21 as the age to purchase cigarettes, and there are 90 cities that also have this law, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The AAP is not only urging a change in the age which you can buy cigarettes but also an increase in price.
Taking both of these steps toward safety might help discourage this unhealthy habit across the country. I’d like to see a healthier generation of people, and I think these suggestions have the potential to make that happen.
As someone who doesn’t smoke, I see only the negative effects of tobacco. People who use these products may see things differently, but I think these recommendations should be eye-opening and taken seriously.
Email Katie Laporte at firstname.lastname@example.org