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The Reasons why Smoking Age should Rise to 21

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Health has already become a vital part of most people’s life. We cannot achieve anything without a healthy body. When I was a kid, I always saw my dad and uncles smoking with each other. I thought it was very cool to mimic their behavior. One day, I asked my dad “Dad, could you give me one cigarette? I think it is so cool.” My dad laughed at me and said: “You are too young to smoke cigarettes.” But I didn’t know when I was able to smoke From the commercial on TV, I finally knew that cigarettes are bad for people’s health. However, I still didn’t understand even though smoking is bad, so many people still don’t want to quit smoking? When I was in the high school, my biology teacher told me there is a kind of toxic substance called nicotine. Nicotine can make people addictive. Also, there are so many teenagers begin to smoke every year, not only in the U.S. but all over the whole world. In this paper, I will argue that the smoking age should rise to 21. This policy not only benefits lots of families but also good for the government. If the government rise the smoking age to 21, it will improve teenagers’ health level, reduce government spending, reduce teenagers’ financial burden and lower the situation of youth smoking.

Health Effects

Firstly, we all know that tobacco can directly influence people’ health, such as different kinds of cancer, heart attack, and high blood pressure. Also, tobacco will affect the reproductive system of adult men and women. And decrease the possibility of conception and increases the risk of abortion. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns and illegal drugs combined (“Health Risks”). For women, tobacco can influence their reproductive quality. For instance, smoking during pregnancy will increase the risk of birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome. For the man, smoking will damage the arteries. The longer men smoke, the more possibility they will have sexual impotence. For kids, smoking will damage their immune system and influence their mental development. Moreover, nicotine in tobacco makes people addictive. It will impact the development of brains for kids.

Besides, tobacco has a close relationship with cancer. According to the research from Alexandrov, smoking cigarettes can cause at least 17 types of human disease such as small cell lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, oral cancer and so on. Because the smoke of tobacco is a complex mixture of chemicals and has at least 60 are carcinogens. That can increase the risk for smokers to get different cancers. I think raising the smoking age to 21 is a kind of protection to improve teenagers to start smoke too much early. It is not only for today’s teenagers but also for our future generations. According to the calculation from CDC, 480,000 people die of smoking in the United States every year. I think citizens’ health level will influence the destiny of the whole country. To improve young people’s healthy level, I think the government should raise the tobacco age to 21.

Youth smoking

What’s more, youth smoking is a serious problem in the United States. Most people start their first cigarettes primarily during adolescence. According to the research from U.S. department of health and human services in 2014 shows that “Although the prevalence of current smoking among high school-aged youth has declined, the total number of youth and young adults who started smoking increased from 1.9 million in 2002 to 2.3 million in 2012. However, progress has made in reducing initiation among youth younger than 18 years of age, with the total number of youths who initiated smoking before age 18 declining form 1.5 million in 2009 down to 1.2 million in 2012.” Generally seeing that people’s first smoking age is rising. However, the general trend in the number of smokers is increasing. Also, nearly 9 out of 10 smokers begin to smoke by age 18. I think if the government raise the smoking age to 21, it will protect more adolescent’s health. The rising smoking age can also effectively prevent adolescents from contact tobacco too early. As I mentioned above, smoking can bring people serious health effects, especially for those teenagers.

Some people think raising the smoking age will decrease the government tobacco tax, so the government won’t have enough money to use in other ways. Hall claims that to offset some of the economic cost of smoking (about $300 billion), the state government collects $25.8 billion each year from tobacco taxes. Compare with fiscal revenue; smoking has brought huge economic losses to the government. So, raising the tobacco age to 21 will save more money for the government.

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Financial burden

Then, Smoking not only bad for teenager’s health. It will also increase the whole family’s financial burden. In the short run, family members have to pay extra money to afford tobacco, and in the long run, they need to afford the expenditures on medical care. That is to say, comparing the non-smokers’ families, smoking families don’t have enough money to face the emergencies. Also, smoking family will easily face financial stress. For instance, your son broke his arm and then send to the hospital. You need to pay lots of money on medical care. Can you afford this money? Siahoush’s research has already proved that I am right. She has found that smoker family will be 1.5 times greater than nonsmoker family to suffer financial stress and two times suffer serious financial stress. According to the calculation from Meyer. The smokers in the U.S. spend at least $1.1 million during the whole lifetime including the money the pay on curing the diseases caused by cigarettes such as lung cancer, heart attack. Smokers in Alaska had the highest total cost, more than $2 million and South Carolina had the lowest cost around $1.1 million per smoker. That’s a massive cost for the most American family. Most smokers even don’t realize how much money they can save if they quit smoking. It is hard to imagine the kids who smoke cigarettes when they are very young. They don’t have stable ways to get income. They have to use their pocket money to buy cigarettes every day. If their parents don’t give their kids some pocket money, it is tough to imagine where they get that money. For instance, when I was in middle school, one of my best friends learned how to smoke. However, he didn’t have enough pocket money to buy cigarettes. Then he tried to skip breakfast to save money for cigarettes. It is true that he didn’t need to worry about buying cigarettes, but his body is getting worse. He became easy to get sick, get the stomachache and shorter than other peers. He finally realized how stupid he is to make such a decision, but it is too late. If the government raise the tobacco age to 21, nonsmokers won’t have much financial stress than smokers.

Government expense

Moreover, for one family, cigarettes not only cause extra and avoidable additional expenditure but also increase government expenditure on health care and environmental governance costs. Hall has noted that “The total economic cost of smoking in the US estimated at more than $300 billion a year. This includes nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to second-hand smoke.” I think these data underestimate the damage of tobacco. In the long run, smoking can bring people certain health effects. Victims have to spend thousands of money to cure the disease. That will increase government spending a lot. However, some people may think the government could win lots of taxes by selling cigarettes. It is unrealistic for the U.S. government to raise the tobacco tax since the increased tax can only temporarily reduce people’s desire for cigarettes but can’t fundamentally solve the situation of youth smoking. Also, as a democratic country, no doubt increasing the tobacco taxes will also intensify the contradictions among people. People will be less satisfied with the government. Consequently, I think the earlier take action to raise the smoking age, the earlier they can reduce the loss of tax. They can use this money in other ways to benefit people.


Since traditional tobacco is bad for people health and led to unnecessary expenditure, e-cigarettes become a good product to represent tobacco. People think e-cigarettes are cheap and less harm to the human body. The advocates say e-cigarettes won’t create the carcinogens form combustion because e-cigarettes use the battery to atomize nicotine. However, Chang, the Cardiology Fellow and Health Services Researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine, claims that “The propellants used in these devices (E-cigarettes), such as propylene glycol or glycerine, decomposes into known carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and acetone, when aerosolized. Much like conventional cigarettes, e0cigarettes also produce secondhand vapor, which can be inhaled by bystanders and are of unknown health significance.” So, we can see that the propellant which is used in the e-cigarettes will decomposes carcinogens during the process of aerosolizing. So, e-cigarettes can’t bring people positive health effects. It just a substitute of traditional tobacco. The inventors want to use this kind of device to reduce smokers’ dependence on nicotine.

Also, e-cigarettes also give young people a new way to mimic others’ smoking behavior. According to the illustration from American Cancer Society, there are no differences between traditional tobacco and e-cigarettes, most of the e-liquid in the cigarettes are carcinogenic and harm people’s health. Moreover, the nicotine levels are not the same in all types of e-cigarettes, and sometimes the product labels don’t list the true nicotine content. Kmietowicz (2014) found that there are more than a double number of adolescents who had tried e-cigarettes in a year, from 3.1% in 2011 to 6.5% in 2012. Even though the percentage of youth smoking is decreasing in recent years, but we can’t deny it is related to the increase of using e-cigarettes. Comparing traditional tobacco, e-cigarettes have different kinds of flavors such as chocolate, strawberry, and cola which can appeal more teenagers begin to use e-cigarettes. The original intention of this invention is to help smokers to quit smoking more accessible, or to replace traditional cigarettes instead of encouraging and attracting more young people to come and try smoking. E-cigarettes give teenagers a new and hard to realize a way to access nicotine. So, I hope the government should treat e-cigarettes like traditional tobacco and make laws to restrict and regulate the use of electronic cigarettes to protect teenagers.

To sum up, children are the future of our county. It is time for the government to take action to protect our future. The law should be regulated and restricted the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes, so that benefit not only one family but also the whole county even the entire world. I am pleased that six states and over 425 cities have already taken action to raise the smoking age to 21. For instance, at the end of 2016, Washington, D.C. took a bold action to raise the minimum tobacco age from 18 to 21. Also, the law regulated that tobacco language can’t be used in the sports event to induce children to smoke. I hope more states can join the tobacco 21 group. According to the latest data on cigarette use from National Health Interview Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, 10.4 percent of young American aged 18-24 smoked cigarettes. That means that 21 percent decline since 2016 when the young adult smoking rate was 13.1 percent.

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The Reasons why Smoking Age should Rise to 21. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
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