Schenectady, NY has become the most recent county to raise the legal smoking age to 21, joining neighboring Albany county, which made the change this past June.
Judy Rightmyer, the director of the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition, told the Albany Times Union that she sees this as a step in the right direction since there has been a “tidal wave of communities moving forward with this initiative because it does make a difference.”
Not all Upstate New Yorkers are quite as enthusiastic as Rightmyer, though. Brian McGarry, a cancer survivor and former candidate for Rotterdam, NY Town Supervisor, believes that this law is an intrusion on a person’s right to choose. He argues that 18-year-olds who can sign up for a credit card, vote, and lay down their lives for their country by joining the military should be able to purchase a pack of cigarettes if they so choose.
However, 180 localities in 14 states have already raised the legal age to 21. According to the CDC, 75% of Americans believe that the higher age limit on tobacco products is a good thing, including 70% of current smokers.
By raising the legal smoking age, officials hope to decrease the rate of cancer and improve the overall health among people in the United States. It is common knowledge that smoking greatly increases a person’s risk of lung cancer.
Approximately 30 million MRI scans are performed in the U.S. each year, and while 22% of those are head scans, many MRI scans are used to detect lung cancer. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women, and the American Cancer Society estimates that by the end of 2016, about 224,390 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed.