Face to Face: Should the nicotine usage age remain at 18 or be raised to 21


Grace Bouton

Face-to-Face is a feature that allows two members of the Redwood Community to grill each other, argue or simply converse about a relevant issue or event. We provide the topic, and they do the rest. This month’s participants are junior Delaney Anderson and senior Georgia Bennett, discussing whether the age of nicotine use should be kept at 18 or raised to 21.


Should the legal age of nicotine usage remain at 18 or be raised to 21?

Georgia Bennett: I don’t think raising it will make a difference because kids seem to find a way to buy nicotine products no matter what the age is.


Delaney Anderson: It would be best for people’s health for it to be raised to 21. It would prevent younger audiences from using nicotine and tobacco and getting addicted to it at a younger age.


Because so many teenagers who use nicotine products get around the age barrier with fake IDs or older friends, do you think raising the age would decrease usage or would teenagers continue to find ways around it?


GB: I think that in this day and age, if you’re 18 or not, kids still seem to find a way to buy nicotine products whether it be with a fake ID or having someone that is older like a sibling or someone they know who can buy it for them.


DA: I think, no matter what, you are going to have kids going around the system and you are going to have kids finding loopholes, asking older siblings, getting a fake [ID] or buying it online. You are going to have certain kids, the persistent kids or kids who are addicted and need it. But I think there are the kids who might be introduced to it and I think if it’s at a later age, it might prevent people from getting involved in it. I think having it at 18 and if you use nicotine at 16 is like ‘oh it’s only two years away, it’s really not that bad,’ but I feel like if we raised it to 21 and you’re doing it as a 15 year old, you look at it differently and have a different perspective. It might not be like that for every person and there’s going to be kids going around it but I feel like it could make a difference.


At 18 you have the right to vote, could be drafted and are deemed an adult. With that in mind do you think it’s the right of the individual to decide whether they use nicotine products or not?


GB: I also think 18 is technically when you become an adult so you should be able to make your own decisions.


DA: I know your brain doesn’t fully develop until you’re into your 20s and that’s why the alcohol age is later. I understand that at 18 you can make your own decisions, but at the same time, since alcohol is at 21, I don’t see why nicotine wouldn’t be. I do get what people say about that, but at the same time people are just looking out for your health and in the long run, the age restrictions will help you even if when you’re younger you have a different mindset than as an adult; I think people would appreciate it.


Do you think the rise of JUULing will effect whether lawmakers change the age?


GB: I think lawmakers and some parents have realized that so many kids are doing this illegally and getting these products somehow when they’re technically underage. I think that really raises a concern especially when we don’t really know much about JUULing because it is relatively new and the health effects haven’t been researched that much. So I think that might lead lawmakers to make the age older, but as I said before, even if the age is changed, I just don’t think it will have an effect on how many people are using the product.


DA: I think it could impact the age because there are a lot more studies coming out and because in the last five years JUULing has been very popular so there are more studies about your health and the addiction in kids. There’s also a lot of studies about flavoring and how their advertising towards adolescents is getting kids hooked instead of helping people who are quitting, which is what JUULs were supposed to do. Because JUULs make so much money, they’re able to find ways around it, but I do feel like it will change with new studies and the negative effects coming out; I think it could impact people’s decision to move it to 21.