The recent decision to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 has been touted as a major win for public health and safety, but is it causing more harm than good? We can all agree that putting anything in your lungs is bad for you, especially cigarettes.
No one is here to question the years of scientific evidence that brought to light of a variety of ill-nesses related to smoking cigarettes, and the use of nicotine and tobacco products in general. But the effects of nicotine withdrawal are detrimental to your health, to say the least. Right now, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people between the ages of 18 and 20 are suffering as a result of this recent move.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include heightened anxiety, depression and irritability. Symptoms can start even on the first day and can prolong for months.
None of this sounds pleasant, does it?
This is the plight of many who had their privilege to legally consume nicotine removed out from under them overnight. There’s no question that nicotine is highly addictive, and bad for your health, but as we can see from the symptoms listed above, withdraw-al really isn’t great for you either.
Now, it can be easy to say, well, you’re no longer old enough to buy them, so quit. But a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows us that only about 6% of nicotine users are able to quit each year, and in most cases, it takes multiple tries to achieve this.
This leads to a bigger potential problem. A much scarier one. In 2019, we saw hundreds of deaths linked to vaping.
At first, health officials were unsure of what could be causing this outbreak, but upon further investigation, most of these illnesses and deaths were leaked to the purchasing of black market vaping products. They were mostly black market THC cartridges, but there was a small percentage that were attributed to bootleg nicotine products, and as a result of this new ban, we may see a rising demand in the black market for nicotine products.
While some people may not be seeking out pre-made black market products, they are synthesizing their own vaping products, strictly for personal use, but this can still be dangerous. I personally already have a family member that has turned down this path in order to get what they need.
Vaping products are heavily regulated in order to maintain the safety of those who use them. When we go about making our own, all of those carefully scientif-ically crafted formulas and ratios go out the door, and this can lead to complications.
America is one of the only countries in the world where the legal age to drink and use tobacco is 21. In most countries, by 18 you are considered a full adult and can drink and smoke as you please.
In many European countries, alcohol is something you experience with your family as a teen-ager, which allows you to better learn responsible use, leading to less accidents and public health and safety concerns.
As many have to wait until they are older to experiment with nicotine, they will be less educated of the dangers of its use and how it impacts them, leading to potentially higher rates of mortality due to the use of nicotine products, especially in the area of nicotine poisoning.
I would be neglecting a large argument for my cause if I didn’t mention the military angle. For those unfamiliar with this one, the argument is, why should I be required to register for military drafting, which may lead to me being required to serve in the military, but I am not allowed to use alcohol, or even nicotine now, to relax.
This is a stretch, but it does hold some merit. It seems as though the government finds nothing wrong with sending 18 year olds to fight in war, but won’t allow them to decide for them-selves if they should partake in the risks associated with nicotine use. This is where we see the disconnect for many. Because, if this is where it starts? Where will we see it end?
I am one of the many affected by this new law. I quit cigarettes by taking up vaping two years ago, and I, luckily, had started to work my way off of vaping when the new law rolled around.
So, I am being forced to quit a little more abruptly than I would have liked, but it’s all for the best.
But others are not as lucky. I know several people on our campus alone who have now fallen prey to unplanned nicotine with-drawal, and have to find a way to cope without any help from those who put them there. Even the cigarette alternatives such as vaping or nicotine gum are illegal to anyone under 21.
This is all in the name of public health, and no one can deny the teen nicotine epidemic, but are we crafting a new crisis in response? I’ll let you decide.