We should be ashamed if we don’t pass Tobacco 21 laws
Follow me at @drClaire In the United States, the national drinking age is 21. States can make it younger, but if they do they lose federal highway funding. The idea is that youth less than 21 are more likely to run into trouble if they drink, and that having them wait until they are older is better. You can argue about whether this actually works, but the idea is a good one. And yet when it comes to tobacco, as far as the federal government is concerned, you just have to be 18. Which, for anyone who knows anything about what happens when youth smoke, makes no sense at all. It was really Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) that drove the national drinking age legislation. It’s true that smoking doesn’t cause immediate impairment in the way alcohol does; one can smoke a couple of cigarettes and drive. But the longer-term impacts of tobacco use are staggering. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents combined. Even if it doesn’t kill you, smoking markedly increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, among other health problems. When pregnant women smoke, their babies are at higher risk of being born small, prematurely, or having birth defects. When parents smoke, it’s more likely that their baby will die of sudden infant death syndrome, or S...
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