Change laws, change health

Our Position: The legislation that raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 can help decrease the number of high school students who vape and smoke.


Raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 in Cook County is going to dramatically decrease the amount of students at LT who vape. According to the Illinois Youth survey that 3,500 LT students took in 2018, 58% of those seniors vape. Most students turn 18 sometime during their senior year, meaning that before Cook County raised the minimum age, it was legal for students who were 18 to vape and smoke during their senior year. The amount of seniors who vape is much larger than the 29% of freshman who vape. It is probable that the reason there is almost a 20% increase from freshman to senior year is that it was not legal freshman year, but as long as they were off campus, it was legal for 18 year-old seniors to vape.

Raising the minimum age will also help to decrease the amount of younger students who vape because it will be harder for them to access these products. It is a well-known fact that younger students purchase their tobacco products from older high school students. It is easier for younger students to buy it from older students who go to their same school instead of having to try to find a person age 21 or older who can sell it to them.

This change will also help to decrease the number of people who experiment with tobacco products and start using them regularly. The use of e-cigarettes can increase the chance that these students will start smoking cigarettes. According to the Respiratory Health Association, 95% of smokers start before the age of 21. Around the ages of 18 to 21 is when smokers transition from experimental smoking to regular smoking. Due to the amount of nicotine in tobacco products, once someone starts it is highly addictive. Since the minimum age to buy these products is raised to 21, the amount of people who end up starting and continuing will be less. This change will positively benefit the community.

Staff vote: 17-7