As many college campuses across the United States, including the University of North Florida, are becoming smoke-free, members of the US Congress are introducing legislation that would limit tobacco use for those under 21.
The Tobacco to 21 Act, which was reviewed by the US senate on Sept. 30, would prohibit the national sale and distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 21. The bill states that tobacco use costs the US approximately $170 billion in direct medical costs and $156 billion lost productivity annually. Some UNF students believe the bill has a chance of being put into law. Sophomore psychology major Delaney Eaton supports the bill but thinks it will not prevent teens from smoking.
“I don’t know, people are going to do what they’re going to do,” Eaton said. “Even if you raise the age, people will find a way to smoke. Like even with drinking, you still have high schoolers binge drinking.”
So far, the bill has received support from 10 senate members. Congress’ findings stated, “Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the US, responsible for approximately 500,000 premature deaths each year.”
Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey said that stopping tobacco sales to individuals under 21 reduces smoking by teens and save lives. He also believes the bill will prevent millions of individuals from suffering from tobacco-related disease.
In the UNF community, some students believe the bill will unsuccessfully pass into legislation.
Senior psychology major Stacey Pollock said this will happen because of the government’s finances.
“This has been in the talks for such a long time,” Pollock said. “It’s never passed because of the government. The states just keep hiking the taxes up and they want their money. If they raise the age, they won’t be getting their money.”
Of the 10 US senate supporters, none represent Florida. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Before the bill moves any further, it must be passed by senate.
Follow this link for a more in depth look at bill: Tobacco to 21 Act
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