AUGUSTA – Should 18-year-olds be allowed to buy cigarettes? Some Maine lawmakers don’t think so.
And those legislators are going to try to raise the legal age to purchase cigarettes.
In California and Hawaii, you can’t buy cigarettes unless you’re 21 years old.
Anti-smoking advocate Bethany Zell stated “When you’re young and impressionable and making this decision out of possibly peer pressure and the need to fit in socially, it’s not a decision you can undo just as easily as you can start.”
The Maine Senate is expected to vote this week on a measure raising the cigarette purchase age to 21.
Supporters said there’s bi-partisan support to raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, but they also say there’s been strong opposition from the tobacco lobby.
Hilary Schneider, American Cancer Society, said “We think it’s a shame that people are making business arguments about addicting our youth to deadly products.”
Last year, Portland joined 231 other towns and cities across the country by raising the legal age for tobacco products to 21.
“About 90 percent of lifetime smokers have their first cigarette before the age of 18.” said child psychologist Dylan McKenney.
It was 53 years ago when the surgeon general first warned of the dangers of smoking. Today, most people know someone who has had health problems connected with smoking or using tobacco products.
Zell stated “My grandfather was, I believe, a life-long smoker. And complications from his mouth and throat cancer were inevitably what took his life.”
In 1985, according to Time magazine, the American Medical Association proposed a national minimum tobacco product age of 21. That effort failed. But supporters of the increase said, the political climate has changed during the past 32 years.