Federal Age Raise Affects Tobacco Users

President Trump signs a bill into law to protect teens

Emma Gray, Editor-In-Chief

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 On Dec. 20, 2019, President Donald Trump changed history for all of those who use tobacco and/or nicotine products.

     President Trump signed the bill that officially raised the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, nationwide. The bill was originally authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) and our very own Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to help combat the increasing risk for teens who use these products.

     Since the rise of products such as JUULs and SUORIN in late 2017, more and more teens have become addicted to nicotine-based products. 

     Senior Katie Grundy was one of three seniors who attended YADAPP in the summer of 2019 at Longwood University in Longwood, VA. YADAPP is a substance abuse and alcohol prevention program, that promotes teen involvement.

     Grundy was an influential member of the small delegation that was sent. She shares her insight on the age raise. 

     “I do agree with the age raise, although we are adults at 18,” Grundy shared. “It doesn’t mean that we are able to make the right decision, due to our frontal lobe not being fully developed.”

      Senior Natalie Fahey disagrees with Grundy.

      “No, I think if you are allowed to enlist in our military and handle a weapon, you should be allowed to smoke and chew,” Fahey said. “If we are ‘adult’ enough to make those decisions, the ability to use tobacco products should be on that list too.”

      While some adults believe that the age raise will completely eliminate the problem, there are many more underlying issues.

      “One of the weaknesses with the law is that in today’s world there is a major lack of research and lack of publishing on the already known research on vaping products.” Grundy said. 

     Fahey doesn’t think that the age raise will benefit as much as many lawmakers hope it will. “A lot of parents and adults in general don’t understand that for the teens with nicotine addictions, they will do whatever they can to find ways to get nicotine, no matter the cost.”

     Since this rise in popularity, the CDC reports that on Jan. 21st, there have been sixty deaths in the United States. With all these deaths that have been reported, it has become alarming to some students.

     “It’s not a good thing to put your body through and it’s really scary to think about friends and family dying from it,” Fahey stated. “However, if you’re going to use nicotine products, then you should know the risks of it.”

     The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 across the nation, affecting millions of users who were 18-20 years of age. The only exception to the law is to active duty service members who are under 21, who can still purchase these products nationwide.