One should be at least 21 years old to buy alcohol in the U.S. and it appears that majority of Americans think that the same minimum age requirement should apply for those buying tobacco products.

In a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine on July 6, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that half of adults in the U.S. including smokers, are amenable to raising the minimum age of buying cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

Of the 4,219 people surveyed, 25 percent said that they are somewhat in favor of the change while 11 percent said they are strongly opposed to the idea of raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco. 14 percent of the participants meanwhile said that they are somewhat opposed to raising the purchasing age.

Of the participants who said that they have never smoked, 77 were supportive of the idea. Support from former and current smokers, however, was slightly lower at 75 percent and 70 percent respectively.

"The fact that older adults are less likely to be directly affected by these laws may explain the greater favorability observed in this group; conversely, lower favorability among current and former smokers could be attributable to resistance to restrictions on a behavior in which they have engaged," the researchers reported in their study.

Brian King, from CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, and colleagues wanted to gauge the public's opinion on increasing the minimum smoking age because this could be an effective way of reducing smoking amount youth. Smoking has been associated with numerous health problems including increased risks for cancer.

No study has yet evaluated the effects of such policy change but the researchers said that other moves that restrict sales of tobacco to minor had a beneficial effect.

"Three quarters of adults favor raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 years, including seven in ten smokers," King and colleagues wrote in their study. "Raising the minimum age of sale, along with proven tobacco control strategies, could prevent youth tobacco use."

Last Month, Hawaii has set its minimum age for smoking to 21 years old. The law, which will take effect on Jan. 1 next year, also applies to electronic cigarettes. Alaska, Alabama and Utah also increased their legal smoking age to 19. 

Ed Schipul | Flickr 

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