You got to be 21 to buy alcohol and pot. So why shouldn’t cigarette smokers follow suit?
“It’s considered to be the number one health issue of the country and it doesn’t seem like we’re dealing with it,” Pat Godfrey, lung cancer survivor and President of the King County Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Administrative Board, tells KIRO’s MyNorthwest.com.
“We’ve basically passed a resolution that cites some of the statistics that support raising the legal age to 21 years old state-wide and we are encouraging the Legislature to take up this issue and move forward in the interest of saving lives,” said Godfrey.
Godfrey maintains that ample scientific evidence exists that raising the age to 21 will help discourage teen smoking.
With the exception of New Jersey, Alaska, Alabama, Utah and a few New York counties, who have set the smoking age at 19, all other states permit 18-year-olds to legally purchase cigarettes. In Texas, though, there is a bill pending to raise it to 21 is pending, and in two cities in Massachusetts, one has to be 21 to buy tobacco products.
“In Washington state, at one point, we were number four in the low incidents of teen smoking. Now we’re like number 34 and so, in the absence of mass marketing against tobacco products, teen smoking is on the increase,” says Godfrey. “I think the bottom line is that if we had a virus in the United States that was killing 480,000 people a year, that would be front page news every day. That’s like 1,300 people a day dying from a cause that’s directly traceable to a product,” says Godfrey. “I think that’s outrageous, actually.”