Americans Want the Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco Raised

August 5, 2019 by Douglas A. McIntyre

In many states, people under 21 years old can buy tobacco products. Most Americans don’t approve of this and want the age barrier to be above 21. This, in turn, could drive legislation to increase the age limit.

According to a new Gallup poll on the age limit to buy tobacco, “A strong majority of Americans (73%) say the minimum age to purchase tobacco products should be raised to 21 years old.” Gallup experts noted that the age has been raised in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

The results vary widely based on age group and whether people are smokers. Among those polled who were 18 to 29, the support for a higher age limit was only 66%. That rose to 81% among Americans aged 65 and older. Among smokers, only 64% supported the increase in the age limit. That rose to 74% among nonsmokers. Gallup researchers also commented that the results may be based on the level of smokers in the United States. They indicated that their research shows that the number of Americans who smoke hit a 75-year low. Seventy-five years is the period for which Gallup has collected figures.

Another reason could be the cost to smoke. At a time when cigarettes were still considered safe, they were cheap and widely popular — costing just 25 cents a pack on average. This is how the cost of a pack of cigarettes changed throughout the decades since the 1950s.

One way to lower smoking rates is to ban smoking in America entirely. That idea has little support, according to Gallup. Just 22% favor an outright ban, about the same as in 2013.

The experts who created the Gallup poll and reported on its findings concluded, “Given the wide support for raising the minimum age for tobacco sales, it’s quite likely that more states will raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 21.”

About 16% of the adults in the country still smoke regularly, and more than 16 million Americans suffer from a smoking-related condition. On average, 11.7% of Americans smoke every day, with cigarette smoking being highest in two U.S. regions. These are the states that have the most smokers.

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