Panel studies effects of raising legal age to buy tobacco

Researchers say the best age for buying tobacco should be 21 years-old


A U.S. panel suggests the legal tobacco-buying age should be increased to 21.

The current legal age to buy tobacco is 18.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a study, commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration, looking into the effects of raising the tobacco- buying age.

The study found increasing the age limit would beneficially affect when people start smoking.

The Wall Street Journal reports, The Institute of Medicine studied the impact increasing the tobacco purchase age would have on certain age limits.  Researchers looked at raising the legally tobacco-buying age to 19, 21 and 25.  They looked at how raising the age limit to one of the three options affected the age group a few years younger, such as 18-to-20-year-olds for raising the legal buying age to 21 years-old. 

According to WebMD, the Chair of IOM committee, Richard Bonnie, says 21 years-old is the best option for what the legal age should be to buy tobacco because of a person's age. Bonnie states kids aged 15 to 17 years-old can't buy cigarettes, so they usually turn to a friend to get them tobacco.  According to Bonnie, children have a greater chance to know someone 19 years-old who can buy them tobacco than they are to know someone 21 years-old.  Researchers found raising the age to 25 didn't give as big of a benefit because there are people in their early 20s that are likely to know someone 25 years-old.  

Below is a chart showing the benefits of raising the age.

AgeFewer Smokers by 2100

Other benefits to raising the legal tobacco-buying age to 21:

Fewer premature births (born 2000-2019)249,000
Fewer preterm births286,000
Fewer sudden infant death cases (moms 15-49 years-old)4,000
Lower birth weight438,000