Smoking age raised to 21 in Washington

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Smoking age raised to 21 in Washington

Age restriction posted next to the tobacco products at Maverik gas station in Cheney. Come 2020, the age to buy smoking or vaping products will be raised to 21.

Age restriction posted next to the tobacco products at Maverik gas station in Cheney. Come 2020, the age to buy smoking or vaping products will be raised to 21.

Bailey Monteith

Age restriction posted next to the tobacco products at Maverik gas station in Cheney. Come 2020, the age to buy smoking or vaping products will be raised to 21.

Bailey Monteith

Bailey Monteith

Age restriction posted next to the tobacco products at Maverik gas station in Cheney. Come 2020, the age to buy smoking or vaping products will be raised to 21.

By Marco Vargas, Reporter

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If young adults want to try smoking, they will have to wait until they are 21 years old starting in 2020.

The Washington state legislature has issued a decision to increase the age minimum for smoking products from 18 to 21 years of age and will officially go into full effect on the very first day of 2020.

The use of smoking products such as cigarettes, tobacco and e-cigarettes can be highly addictive to teenagers, according to the World Health Organization, resulting in serious health issues that they may struggle to overcome.

Washington isn’t the only state to raise the age minimum, as several other states have already made the same decision. It is a plan that lawmakers made to keep teenagers away from smoking products due to a concern of their health at a young age.

Click here to find out which localities have raised the smoking age to 21.

Tricia Hughes, senior director of EWU wellness and recreation programs, said that while the new law will be active at EWU, smoking products, including tobacco, are still not sold anywhere on campus.

I believe one of the reasons behind the new law is that 95% of current tobacco users began before the age of 19. That means, that if you can keep someone from using tobacco until they are 21, it is much more likely than not that they will not start using tobacco.”

— Tricia Hughes, Senior Director of EWU Wellness and Recreation Programs

“I do not believe it will have much of an impact,” Hughes said. “EWU follows the Washington Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking and vaping on campus in any public building as well as within 25 feet of any doors or air intake systems. We also have a policy on campus that provides for Arevalo Mall to be tobacco free.”

Some citizens may disagree with the new law, but some have no problem with Washington’s decision, whether they are smokers or non-smokers. EWU senior Ariana Sanchez is one of those who agree, saying that the new law is fair.

“I think it’s great,” Sanchez said about the age limit being raised from 18 to 21. “It’s smarter to wait, just like the concept of alcohol. I think it will be a better decision because sometimes some people aren’t smart enough to even make decisions for themselves at 18 years old.”

EWU junior Leslie Ponce also agrees with the decision.

“I think overall, the change of age requirement is fair,” Ponce said. “I think that would set a great barrier for our youth. To begin with smoking is not good for one’s health and to start off at the age of 18 can impact an individual’s health in the long run. If we were to increase the age to 21, the individual would be more of a mature age, like the drinking age for Washington state law as well. It may not decrease the numbers of those that smoke, but those that are at full mature age can smoke responsibly at 21.”

A very high percentage of young underaged teenagers using smoking products could also be a reason for Washington to issue this new law according to Hughes.

“I believe one of the reasons behind the new law is that 95% of current tobacco users began before the age of 19,” Hughes said. “That means, that if you can keep someone from using tobacco until they are 21, it is much more likely than not that they will not start using tobacco.”

Hughes said that she and her staff are not concerned about the use of smoking products at EWU.

“We have low tobacco use on our campus,” Hughes said. “I do not anticipate that we will focus too much on the new law since it will not change anything.”

The new law in Washington is set to activate on Jan. 1, 2020. For more info about health concerns with smoking, visit EWU Health, Wellness & Prevention Services at URC 201.


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