Raise the tobacco purchase age to 21
Maryland lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill to restrict the sale of tobacco products in the state to those age 21 and older instead of the current age of 18. If passed, that would make Maryland the strictest state in the nation when it comes to cigarette purchases. A few states have raised the tobacco buying age to 19, but no other state has reached the 21 marker, and only one city has: New York City last year passed a bill restricting the sale of tobacco to age 21; it goes into effect in April.
The motivation for the change to 21 is simple common sense, and several states — including Colorado, Hawaii, Texas and Utah — are expected to consider it this year. Most smokers take their first puffs as teenagers. According to a surgeon general's report, nearly 90 percent of adults who smoke daily started before age 21. The human mind does not fully mature until the mid-twenties, so a product as harmful and addictive as cigarettes should not be sold to young persons who are not even proximate to that age nor able to gauge when they've passed from experimentation to compulsion. The American Journal of Public Health notes that "often it is with their first attempt to quit that young smokers realize they have become addicted to tobacco and will not be able to quit easily."