Tobacco to 21

The vaping epidemic has taken over teenagers’everyday lives. So much that a number of teenagers have died and many have shown side effects. This not only caught the attention of parents and the media but this pressured Congress to take action to stop said epidemic. 

Congress passed a bill called “Tobacco to 21 Act” where it will prohibit the sale of tobacco products to all people under the age of 21.

Through multiple investigations, they concluded that the tobacco industry targets minors. They have fun flavors that appeal to the underage such as creme brulee and apple pie. They also point out the fact that tobacco claims so many lives every year and that the consequences outweigh its presence.

Just how alcohol is regulated, tobacco will be mandated similarly. But this is where conflict and difference of opinion arises. Alcohol is illegal to minors yet somehow, at an overwhelming amount of high school parties, you see alcohol. Juuls are also illegal to minors, yet you can see a majority of high school students carry one. 

In my opinion, this bill won’t create a difference. It simply becomes a little harder to obtain one. Regardless, teens will have a way around the system. I will also like to pose the question: how do students obtain nicotine/tobacco products right now? 

An anonymous student said, “They’re dumb for thinking we get them legally. Either way we have older siblings, cousins, co-workers who can buy them for us.” 

I would also like to point out a major flaw in the bill. In multiple lines and statements from representatives and senators, they mentioned that they want to end the vaping epidemic and for once, let the Tobacco industry lose. Now vape pens, Juuls, Puff Bars or any of the other nicotine products that a majority of high school/early college students use don’t contain any tobacco. 

A student said “I think [we] don’t smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco because why would we need to. [We] have a pen that we don’t even need to use a lighter for and it gives [us] the same result.” Many other students have the same mentality. Cigarettes are not convenient and neither are any tobacco products. Hence why they stray away from them.

Essentially, this bill is meaningless. It was created to end an epidemic but fell flat as tobacco isn’t what caused the epidemic.  Students don’t obtain their products legally. They have other people buy it for them. Furthermore, without this bill, people under 18 still had access, concluding that raising the age won’t be effective.

 This bill only prohibits the sale of tobacco products to people under 21. Not nicotine products. If the majority of students don’t even use tobacco, this bill gained nothing. 

This bill is completely irrelevant to any issue its intentions were to solve. The long-term effects of nicotine-based products is still being monitored as they have only recently within the last five years have become an issue. The generation to use them still has a long way to go before they feel any effects. Thus, this bill was created to please the media and parents.