American Academy of Pediatrics push to raise smoking age to 21

Some call to raise legal age to buy tobacco products to 21

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.

This new policy recommendation was released earlier on Monday, stating it hopes to reduce youth smoking and nicotine addiction.

"We have been very concerned about the impact on tobacco on young people," Dr. Karen Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson is the chair on the AAP Section on Tobacco Control and also an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital Colorado and the University Colorado School of Medicine.

"We know that children and adolescents who start smoking before the age of 21, are far more likely to become established adult smokers," Dr. Wilson said. "And recently the Institute of Medicine released a report that said that raising the age of sales to 21 could have a huge impact on smoking rates among adults as well as adolescents, and also the smoking rates among young mothers, both pregnant and new moms. And so we feel like this going to protect not only adolescents and young adults from starting to smoke, but also a new generation from being exposed by their parents."

There were views on both sides of the table.

"I think it's a good idea," Amy Moon said. "It would decrease the number of addictive cigarette users in the future."

"If you're 18, they can draft you," Dominik Meyerhoff said. "They can just make you go to war so, I mean if they can take every right for an 18 year old, but except make them go fight...I don't know, I just feel that they need something."

This would not just be all tobacco products, but e-cigarettes as well, something doctors say also have effects as well.

"They do have similar hydro-carbons that you're exposed to, a lot of the toxic carbons you're exposed to in regular smoke," Dr. Lukasz Dabrowski, with SIH Center for Medical Arts said. "People just assume it's different because that's the way it's been sold thus far."

While just a three year change, doctors say the age can make a huge difference due to tobacco's addictive nature.

"Especially with its early exposure as the brain is still developing, so keeping that in mind. The earlier and more likely you are to get addicted to it, and have its long lasting effects as you go forward," Dr. Dabrowski said.

"Nicotine seems to be particularly damaging to adolescents' brains and adolescents get addicted to nicotine even more quickly, and so just like with alcohol, we want to protect those developing brains from the toxic effects of theses chemicals, " Dr. Wilson said.

Alex Gaidule who has been smoking for more than 10 years, said the change in age could help younger generations make smart choices in the long run.

"When you're younger, you don't factor in a lot of things  when you make decisions. But then when you're older, you think about more things and be more informed on your decisions," Gaidule said.

And while there were some saying this would be a good idea, some weren't sure if raising the age would be effective.

"I think it's good but I don't think it's going to change the effect of younger people to still get them, they're going to find another way to get them by any means necessary," Rico D said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommended banning advertisement of tobacco products in all media, some including TV, billboards, and online.

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