Raising the Smoking Age: East Valley Youth Respond

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By: COACHELLA UNINCORPORATED

Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, California Senator Ed Hernandez introduced the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act (Senate Bill 151), a bill that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21. “Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age,” Hernandez said in a statement. “We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them.” But local youth say the availability of tobacco products and the rise of e-cigarettes may doom the success of the bill even before it goes up for a vote.

 

I think [the bill] is going to be ineffective because kids are curious. They are going to find a way to get [cigarettes] anyway. I don’t know how many times a day I’m at work, and young people pay $40 a day on cigarettes. They sometimes look like they just turned 18.

Young people think e-cigarettes are cooler, because you can customize the vape pens. I think those e-cigarettes and vape pens are catered to people who want to smoke, but who don’t want to look like they’re smoking.

Johnny Flores, 17, Coachella

Just because cigs won’t be more accessible, [the bill] won’t hide them. Young people will still gain access to them.
— Arturo Ponce, 17, Coachella

I think it might reduce smoking, but the issue is the person is 18. They are an adult. They can make adult decisions.

— Ivan Valenzuela, 22, Indio

People will still buy them. People still need their fix. I don’t think [the bill] will prevent teenagers from purchasing cigs because teens are curious, and they will find a way.

Young people might think e-cigarettes are more trendy or cool. People probably think [e-cigarettes] are somehow healthier than regular cigarettes. There is a lot of misinformation.

— Karla Martinez, 16, Coachella

Changing the legal smoking age won’t have as much of an impact as we would hope. Once people are restricted from something, they still try to get it, in my opinion. Look at alcohol the drinking age, it is 21, but yet we see teenagers drinking. Young people probably will get their cigarettes from older friends or maybe even family members, so no, it won’t work.

— Belen Cordero, 18, Indio

Changing the legal smoking age will not fully prevent most young people from smoking, although I still think it would help. Young people will still find different ways to get their cigarettes.

I think e-cigarettes are easier to get than traditional cigarettes because you can order them online without having to personally go to a store and buy them yourself. This makes it much easier to buy e-cigarettes because people can lie about their personal information, such as their age, to receive the product.

— Bertha Chavez, 17, Coachella

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