Smoking age to rise from 18 to 21


Melanie Calimlim

Music industry studies major Darryl Hall passes time with a smoking break near Police Services on DVC campus, Thursday, March 31.

Melanie Calimlim, Senior staff member

California Senate voted Thursday, March 10 to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill March 23, 2016 and the new law will go into effect beginning June 1st, 2016 making California the second state in the U.S. apart from Hawaii to raise the legal smoking age.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. This law may prove to be one of the most significant motions passed concerning the health of everyone – including non-smokers – as secondhand smoke also imposes several health risks. Smoking poses an overall dwindling health, and can affect any part of your body. There is a greater chance that a smoker will suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is among one the leading causes of death in the U.S. Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can show early signs of this disease.

21-year-old biology major Andrew Nogaliza says he already feels the adverse effects of smoking, saying that he turned to smoking when school became really stressful. “Honestly, it’s a good thing – in raising the smoking age – I’m not a habitual smoker but I suffered the toll of it when I did smoke for almost an entire month. When you breathe, it’s not clean air. There’s a wall that’s blocking it, and it’s hazardous. It sucks.”

Although teens have found ways around the legal age, the higher age restriction may hinder some young smokers from obtaining cigarettes.

Jim Wood, a California State Assembly member, was in congruence with the proposed bill, saying that raising the legal age does work.

“Teen smoking is enabled by buying for the younger,” said Wood. “18-year-olds are much more likely to buy tobacco products for their 14, 15, 16-year-old friends. But 21-year-olds don’t do that.”

There are several students that smoke on the Diablo Valley College that may be impacted if this law takes effect.

20-year-old English major Justin Rogers had two standpoints from this bill.

“I think we should abide that standard, if it’s just by that one standard that all smoking should be illegal until you’re 21,” said Rogers. “I just take offense of the fact that if I can go to war at 18 and die for a cause but I can’t have this one vice. But I’m absolutely okay with it even though the arbitrary distinction of three years is pointless to me.”

Wood also compared how the legal drinking age was lowered from 21 to 18 in the 1970’s and how it failed to do any good after finding out that motor vehicle accidents and fatalities rose – which forced law enforcers to raise the legal drinking age back to 21 again. 

It remains to be seen if this new law will be successful or not, but if all goes well, young adults will keep their health for a few more years.