EDITORIAL: Raise Colorado's minimum age for buying cigarettes to 21

By The Denver Post Editorial Board
Teen smoking is not a right, it is a horrible choice that is addictive and incredibly damaging to the young brain.
The federal government has left it up to local and state governments to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes, and Colorado is looking to do just that.
Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, is pushing a bill that will be introduced soon to increase the cigarette-buying age from 18 to 21 — a move he says would add consistency to vice laws that set a 21 age limit to buy recreational marijuana, gamble and buy alcohol.
New York City last year raised the tobacco buying age to 21 and so did Utah— dismissing the argument that 18-year-olds who are old enough to fight in wars and vote should be allowed to buy cigarettes.
That is a bad position when you are talking about the supremely addictive substance of nicotine and what it does to teens.
Research shows adolescent smokers are more likely to become heavy smokers, are much less likely to quit smoking later in life, and are more likely to die from smoking-related illnesses.
Additionally, nicotine has more deleterious effects on developing brain of an 18-year-old than a 21-year-old.
Though the numbers of teen smokers have declined, research shows virtually all new users of tobacco products are under 18.
History also shows raising age limits works. It did with alcohol.
In the 1970s, states lowered the legal age to buy alcohol to 18, a major mistake that resulted in more drunken-driving deaths.
In the 1980s, Congress passed the Uniform Minimum Drinking Age Act, giving states a financial incentive to raise the drinking age to 21. States began reporting fewer drunken-driving deaths, and youth usage and binge drinking fell by a third.
In 2005, the town of Needham, Mass., raised the age to buy cigarettes to 21. The result has been a dramatic local decline in smoking.
Society has said teens can’t smoke recreational pot; we should be consistent with tobacco.