The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged policymakers to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21 across the United States.
Most of the people who smoke started in their teens. For the first time the number of teenagers trying tobacco has declined since the 1970s. However, there are still new smokers every year.
‘Barring people under age 21 from buying tobacco products, would result in a quarter-million fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019.’
The strong new policy statement by the nation's leading pediatricians group was among more than two dozen recommendations aimed at tightening regulations on cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco and nicotine products, to reduce youth smoking and nicotine addiction.
According to a report by the Institute of Medicine released in March, the public health benefits of barring people under age 21 from buying tobacco products could be tremendous, including 4.2 million fewer years of life cost among the next generation.
A new minimum age to purchase tobacco products, would result in a quarter-million fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019.
According to the study conducted at the request of the US Food and Drug Administration, found that the raising the legal age even higher to 25, would result in the prevalence of smokers among today's teens, when they become adults, would decline by 16 percent.
If the age limit was raised to 21, the estimated smoking rates would fall to 12 percent.
The AAP policy statement urges the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems the same as other tobacco products. The number of teens who tried e-cigarettes and hookahs tripled in a year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement calling the report "a crucial contribution to the debate on tobacco access for young people."
"There is no safe way to use tobacco," said Dr. Sandra G. Hassink, the academy's president.
The FDA cannot raise the age limit nationwide. The minimum age in four states is 19, and in several local jurisdictions including New York City have raised the legal age to 21.
"Tobacco is unique among consumer products in that it severely injures and kills when used exactly as intended. Protecting children from tobacco products is one of the most important things that a society can do to protect children's health," states the AAP policy statement.