The newest law in Oregon bans tobacco sales to under 21s. On Wednesday, Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, signed the bill into law. The measure will also hold responsible vendors selling tobacco and tobacco-related products to minors.
The Legal Smoking Age
In most of the United States, anyone age 18 and over can legally purchase tobacco and tobacco paraphernalia from any licensed vendor. The legal drinking age in the country is currently 21. While cannabis remains federally prohibited and illegal for recreational use in most states, Oregon’s state law regarding recreational weed allows people over the age of 21 to purchase it. There is also a medical cannabis program.
Studies show that cannabis is significantly less harmful to the body than tobacco and alcohol. And yet, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol is seen as less controversial and subversive than smoking weed is.
In states like New Jersey, Maine, Hawaii, and California, tobacco regulations have been updated. These states now have a law that bans the sale of tobacco to those under 21. And now, Oregon is following suit.
Oregon and Drugs
The state of Oregon seems to have an interesting attitude towards drugs. They have had recreational cannabis available for consumers over the age of 21 since 2015. Recently, a bill was cleared in the state House and Senate that would decriminalize hard drugs. And now, Oregan bans tobacco sales to under 21s.
According to the most recent available data from the state’s public health department, about 7,000 Oregonians die from tobacco-related illnesses and complications annually. In a 2013 survey, approximately 70% of adults in the United States supported the idea of raising the legal tobacco-buying age. Of those, about 57% were smokers themselves.
The law will take effect January 1, 2018. When it does, vendors who ignore the law and continue to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 21 will be held liable and subject to penalty, including fines.
This new law will also apply to vaporizers and other devices to vape tobacco and nicotine.
Final Hit: Oregon Bans Tobacco Sales to Under 21s
The passing of this new law seems to be in tandem with Oregon’s reputation for sensible drug policy. The state’s lawmakers have already come to the conclusion that cannabis is safe enough to consume recreationally for those who are 21 and over. In that state, it is more or less treated like alcohol. Regulated with a legal age of purchase and consumption, and only legally available through licensed vendors. It also rakes in a lot of revenue.
Because Oregon bans tobacco sales to under 21s, they are continuing a pattern for the rest of the country. There’s a possibility that if tobacco is harder to purchase as a teenager, it could sway them away from using it. This, in turn, could reduce the likelihood of them smoking cigarettes as an adult. If they abstain from smoking cigarettes as an adult, they could avoid tobacco-related health problems, like emphysema, cancer, and heart disease.
When Oregon’s law takes effect, will it improve public health? Time will tell, but it’s a definite possibility.