Smokers in San Francisco need to be at least 21 years old to be able to buy tobacco products, a new legislation states.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors all agreed on Tuesday to change the buying age from 18 to 21 years old, despite negations from various groups.
The New Law
The new law will take effect on June 1, so anyone who would like to buy tobacco products must be 21 by then.
The ordinance will undergo a grace period that will run for one year. During this time, tobacco sellers that fail to comply would be given warnings.
To make the law clear, authorities would not summon people aged 18-20 years old for smoking or carrying tobacco, they just would not be able to purchase such products.
The Legislator Behind The Law
Scott Wiener introduced the legislation, which he calls Tobacco 21. He cites the decadal detrimental health impacts of tobacco smoking, as well as its financial implications in the society.
Weiner says that his proposal has received good feedback from Small Business Commission and the San Francisco Board of Education even before the recent board approval.
When the legislation was approved, he posted a tweet confirming the news and used the hashtags #tobacco21 and #health.
— Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) March 1, 2016
The law has tremendous implications to the health of young people. Firstly, teenagers have the most vulnerable bodies to addiction. Hence, being able to purchase tobacco at a young age, even due to curiosity, increases the risk of addiction and smoking problems.
In a study by the Institute of Medicine, the authors said [pdf] that young people between 15 and 17 years old still have developing brains and are very vulnerable.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other groups are in favor of raising the buying age of tobacco to 21 years old in the entire country. Through this measure, the AAP said that early deaths and lung cancer deaths would be 223,000 and 50,000 fewer respectively for people born between the years 2000 and 2019.
With the approval of the new ordinance, San Francisco joins New York, Boston and some 100 cities in the quest to raise the minimum age of buying tobacco to 21 years old.
Hawaii became the first state in America to increase the smoking age to 21 years old.