Underage smokers fuming over new tobacco law


Dongyoung Won

Mina Marjanovic and Dongyoung Won


Just a few weeks ago my best friend and I were carrying our morning coffees to a table outside. We realized we had forgotten to pick up cigarettes. ‘No big deal’ I thought to myself, there’s a liquor store on every corner. So I placed my perfectly poured cappuccino on the table and told my friend I’d be right back.

A few minutes later I returned to our usual table, unusually empty handed.

Apparently, just two months ago California changed its tobacco law. Now the minimum age to purchase any tobacco product is 21-years-old, just like alcohol. As a 20-year-old, still months away from turning 21, I was devastated as well as completely shocked when I was told I had to be 21 to purchase my pink Capri’s.

What about the now underage smokers who were already addicted? Now we have to fish for cigarettes too. That just sounds like an all around inconvenience if you ask me.

My friend and I spent that entire morning agitated, researching the new law.

Contrary to popular belief, this new law extends far beyond just the purchasing of old school cigarettes, it includes e-cigarettes as well. Vaping has also been banned in many public places too.

Another odd part to the new law is that it does not apply to military personal. What the heck. How is that fair?

According to the Director of the Prevention Institute of Oakland Larry Cohen, the biggest drop in tobacco users is expected to be teens between the ages of 15 to 17.

When I read this it made no sense to me. Those kids couldn’t purchase cigarettes in the first place.

Cohen explained that those between the ages of 15 to 17 tend to have friends that are 18 years old purchase tobacco products for them.

If this is true then those between the ages of 18 and 20 surely have 21-year-old friends who have access to tobacco products. So is the problem really going to be resolved with this new law? Or will tobacco products just become more popular due to not being as easily accessible?

In my opinion, smoking cigarettes has become cool again. Everywhere you go there are more and more young people with cancer sticks lit between their lips. Yes, actually lit so no they aren’t attempting to display a metaphor.

Perhaps this new fad has been brought to us by the hipster community or from European exchange students who are studying at Chico State.

Whichever way you chose to look at it, there is no denying that the smoking of cigarettes has become more popular in the last few years among young adults and perhaps even more accepted.

With that being said, if there’s a will there’s a way. Those who really want to get their hands on tobacco products will find a way with or without the new law.

Mina Marjanovic can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.