Smoke-Filled Trouble

Congress promoting the age change to buy tobacco products

Congress promoting the age change to buy tobacco products

by Kandace Feller, Reporter

Underage smoking has been a developing problem. There have been many cases of hospitalized teens from the effects of vaping.

Since these stories of sick teens have hit the news, recent changes have been made to the age required to buy tobacco products. Changing the age from 18 to 21 was a month-long process led by senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Tim Kaine. McConnell wanted to pass this bill to “curb smoking and vaping among youth in his state”.

A 2015 report from the Institute of Medicine found raising the age to 21 could prevent approximately 223,000 premature deaths among Americans born between 2000 and 2019. Although this law change has its positive side, there are many Americans that don’t agree. When asked if this new law makes sense, senior Chase Murphy stated, “No because raising the age to 21 is just influencing minors to buy it off the black market and get sick.”

Even before the age was changed, teens have been getting tobacco products through others who were legally allowed to buy it. Teens are still bound to do the same today. However, with it less accessible, they could take whatever products they can get which can be dangerous. 

Tashawn Portern, 19, says “..they are going to do what it takes to get more. The 18-year-olds who were once legally allowed to buy it are going to have to resort to someone older to still regularly get it.” As previously stated, teens will do whatever they feel is necessary to get the tobacco product they need. Including going to a 21-year-old friend.

Another angle to what may be problematic in this situation is the businesses that are suffering, not only consumers. Vape shops’ profits are declining because of the number of legal consumers going down. These shops are dependent on their legal consumers for income, being that this is their business.

“I feel like they should have done more research before taking job stability, income away from a lot of people. I believe it was a premature decision on their part,” said Porter.

Many Washington vape shops have been forced to let many employees go because of the age change and the vape flavor ban. Matt Bradley, who was featured on Deadliest Catch, is the owner of Sky Vapor in Everett, WA. He hopes this ban is lifted, as he has been forced to close one of his three shops already. 

“I hope that Inslee lifts the ban and we go back to business as usual, and they see this ploy was useless. But if he doesn’t lift the ban, they got what they wanted, they picked us all off,”  said Bradley.

Levi Brennan, owner of Clouds the Limit in Everett, says 90% sales have declined . “We range from anywhere from $700 to $1000 a day in gross sales,” said Brennan. “After the flavor ban went into effect, our first day back in business was $26 in sales.”

Changing the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 is suppose to prevent deaths and many other problems associated with underage smoking, as the Institute of Medicine had projected, mentioned in the beginning. There have also been a few problems associated with it since it came into effect. However, with the abundant health issues and hospitalizations that have been increasing in teens specifically, it is necessary to do something about it.