Increase of smoking age to 21 hits students


Michigan has a new age minimum for purchasing tobacco.

You must now be 21 to buy tobacco or vaping devices.

The minimum age increased earlier this month. Previously, it was 18.

Some Detroit Mercy students are not happy with the change, noting that the legal age to vote or register for military service remains 18.

Jacques Brantley, 18, called the law “stupid.”

“I feel like it starts more problems than it fixes,” he said. “You got young people who are 19 to 20 that’s used to buying their products. It’s their habit.” 

But many health organizations support the change.

According to the American Lung Association, “the legislation was included in the federal year-end legislative package and passed by both houses of Congress.”

President Donald Trump signed the bill on Dec. 20. 

Supporters hope that raising the age to 21 for all tobacco products will reduce the number of deaths related to tobacco-induced diseases, such as lung cancer and heart disease.  

A 2015 study estimated that raising the age to 21 for tobacco purchase would reduce or prevent more than 200,000 deaths among young people.  

The law also aims to reverse vaping among young adults. 

“Smokers aged 18 and 19 years old are often a supplier for younger kids who rely on friends, classmates and peers to buy tobacco products,” said a lung association report. “Therefore, increasing the age of sale would greatly reduce the number of high school students who could purchase tobacco products.” 

Proponents note that raising the drinking age to 21 resulted in a dramatic drop in drunk-driving deaths.

Tobacco 21, a national organization, was among those advocating for the change.

“It is very important to think about the best ways to support those who will be affected by any such law, and provide resources to help young people quit if already smoking,” according to the organization. 

Dr. Rob Crane of Tobacco 21 added, “Passing a Tobacco 21 law in Michigan has the potential to save lives, but only if the law is carefully implemented in a way that supports, rather than stigmatizes, the people it affects.”