OPINION: Does California’s New Smoking Law Violate Civil Rights?


Lauren O'Neill, Reporter

Recently, California created a law raising the age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21 instead of 18. They are not the first state to do this. According to CNN,  Hawaii changed their law to 21 this past January, along with several major cities.

Most state laws are still 18, but there has been a push to raise the age to 21. Many people believe that this will help deter even more teens and young adults from smoking or vaping, and decrease the number of long-term smokers. It can help prevent high school students who are 18 and currently allowed to buy tobacco products from influencing younger students. Others believe that the laws should stay the way they are because changing them will not have any positive impact.

Senior Jason Huang is among these people. “Raising the smoking age is simply an infringement on the rights of adults 18-21 that is not needed to be combined with our already declining use of tobacco,” he said.

Huang continued stating that he believes that raising the age to 21 is unnecessary because smoking has declined drastically due to other legislation like D. A. R. E., increased taxes on tobacco products, and preventing the advertisements of tobacco products.

If people have been educated about the dangers and risks associated with smoking, they can chose whether they want to do it or not.  There are other, more productive things that can be done instead of raising the age to 21, like preventing adults from smoking in public places.

This new legislation also includes e-cigarettes, which have become popular among young adults. E-cigarettes have come under fire because they are not regulated and anyone can get them. They have been touted as being less harmful than cigarettes and a way to help smokers quit. However, they can also be an easy way for teens to get into the habit of smoking. With California’s new law being implemented in June, vendors are banned from selling to anyone under the age of 21, even if the e-cigarette does not contain tobacco.

Smoking continues to be a large issue, affects the health of people, even in our own communities. California’s new law could pave the way to having fewer smokers and better health, but it does so at the cost of young adults’ freedom, and prevents them from making their own choices in regards to their health and bodies.