Governor Jerry Brown considers changing the legal age for smoking

Cigarette legislation is a signature away from becoming law.

Kristina Cary, Managing Editor

The California Senate passed a bill over Thursday that will raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 that will now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who could veto it or allow it to pass with or without a signature of approval.

The bill, having already passed the state Assembly the week before, is one of several new measures recently reviewed by state legislators aiming to limit smoking. Signing this bill into law would promote the public’s general well-being, as it would be harder for minors to obtain cigarettes, reducing the likelihood that they will smoke as adults.

Nearly 90 percent of smokers start by age 18, according to the Office of the Surgeon General. Once a teen starts, it can be hard to stop due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine, a key component of cigarettes, creating an unhealthy cycle that can be hard to end.

Cigarette smoke can negatively affect nearly every organ in the body and cause a host of diseases, as well as erode an individual’s general health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also affect those around a smoker, as secondhand inhalation can also cause a range of health complications.

Young adults can be vulnerable to a widespread array of social and environmental influences promoting tobacco use, including images and messages presented by movies or prominent social figures.

Socially, teens are heavily influenced by their peers, and raising the smoking age would legally limit older high schoolers from smoking, constricting circulation of cigarettes as it would be harder for teens to share them with underclassmen, leading to less glorification of smoking among teens themselves as they no longer see it among their friends.

While it is now up to the governor to decide whether or not to sign the bill, its ultimate goal of reducing access to tobacco is in the interest of the general public. It may not completely eliminate smoking among individuals under 21, but it would be a crucial factor reducing circulation. 

Cigarettes pose a clear and present danger to both smokers and those around them, and passing this bill would be a definitive step towards reducing smoking among teens.

As a community of young women who fall under a critical age range when it comes to the formation of smoking habits, it is also our responsibility to remind our peers about the dangers of tobacco and cigarettes in order to promote a healthy community.