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Idaho Looks To Raise Smoking Age To Twenty-One

Idaho Looks To Raise Smoking Age To Twenty-One


In 2017, the state of Idaho shut down an attempt by advocacy groups to raise the age to purchase "tobacco products," including vapor devices, from 18 to 21. The legislation proposing the change, known as Tobacco 21, failed to make it out of committee hearings. Now, in 2018, the same group are back and trying to raise the smoking age again.

One reason for the change given by the advocacy groups is that they consider vaping to be a gateway to traditional cigarettes. However, as we have often explored on Breazy, vaping is most often used as a cessation tool, and cigarette use has dropped substantially among young people as vaping has become more popular with the general American population.

That being said, we also believe that sensible regulation is understandable, and here at Breazy, we require users and purchasers who are twenty-one years old.  

Young Vapers

Advocates in Idaho have made what we consider to be ridiculous assertions that there’s a link between vaping and teenagers picking up cigarettes. Additionally, they claim tobacco industries are angling for youth to start vaping, only later in life to turn to cigarette smoking.

"They'll start vaping first and they'll move on to cigarettes," said Dr. Jennifer Shalz of Idaho’s St Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. "That's the hope of the tobacco companies. They are they replacement smokers. They are replacing the people who are smokers who died."

Five states, including Oregon, have passed legislation raising the smoking age to 21.

However, this attitude towards vaping makes the United States a relatively conservative country for vaping regulation. In 2015, an independent study in the U.K. found that vaping is 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes, and based on those findings vaping advocates argue that vaping helps in the cessation process for smokers, rather than getting young people hooked on a new cool thing.

Vapor product advocates contend that vaping is not a gateway for cigarettes or other drugs, are not marketed to children, and that their products are meant to be used by adults that are already smokers and looking to quit.  

Teenage Use

In reality, use amongst youth is on the decline for both tobacco and vapor products. Between 2015 and 2016, cigarette use dropped from 11.4% to 10.5% of 12th graders, from 6.3% to 4.9% among 10th graders, and from 3.6% to 2.6% among 8th graders.

The last two age groups represent a record decline in use. Similarly, vaping among youth dropped from 16% to 13% among 12th graders, from 14% to 11% among 10th graders, and from 8% to 6% for 8th graders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent annual report on youth and tobacco found in 2017 that 11.3 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2016, compared with 16 percent the year before. That's the first drop since the CDC started keeping track of e-cigarettes in 2011, though we expect a trend to  develop as stronger age-restriction laws go further to limit youth access to vapor products and ensure they end up in the hands where they belong - those seeking to quit using tobacco products that contain actual tobacco.