Colorado and Utah Move to Raise the Smoking Age to 21

Written by Sy Mukherjee

Lawmakers in Colorado and Utah advanced bills on Thursday to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21. If the measures get final approval, the two Western states will be the first in the nation to have raised the smoking age to that level.

Legislators say that raising the age to 21 will discourage, or at least delay, young people from picking up the habit. “What I’m hoping to do is make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes,” said Colorado state Rep. Cheri Gerou (R), a proponent of the smoking bill.

Studies have shown that regular smokers consume their first cigarette or tobacco product before the age of 18. Public health officials around the world consider smoking, which accounts for 480,000 American deaths every year, to be the number one preventable cause of death.

Utah, where the legal tobacco purchase age is already 19, and Colorado currently have some of the lowest smoking rates in the country, a trend that extends to the other states in that region. In fact, Utah’s smoking rate is just over half the national average of 18.1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Anti-smoking advocates have seized on raising the tobacco age as their newest avenue for curbing smoking rates. To date, several counties in Massachusetts and New York City have raised the legal age to 21. One study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that raising the smoking age to 21 could reduce smoking among teenagers aged 14 to 17 by as much as 82 percent. After England raised its smoking age from 16 to 18, youth smoking dropped by nearly 30 percent, according to the BBC.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobets3 years ago

Thank you

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

I would like to be able to discourage the younger ages from smoking but I don't think raising the age limit is the way to go. to me it seems that all the taxes that have been dumped on the smokes that it would have become so cost-prohibitive that it would have pushed many to quit and even more to not start.

Curtis P.
Kirk P3 years ago

I think it would be extremely funny, or maybe ironic is a better word, to see a 20-year-old American soldier return home from active combat in Afghanistan and then get arrested for lighting up a cigarette.

Carolanne Powell
C Powell3 years ago

Smoking has become very anti-social in the UK, which is a good thing, as kids are thinking it's less "cool" nowadays to smoke. The UK are in the middle of discussions about banning smoking in cars with children. All good. Raising the age to 21 still won't stop peeps getting hold of cigarettes, but is still a deterent. I would like to see this horrible addiction & the taxes the governments make from it banned totally. Smoking related illnesses cost the UK's NHS billions!

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago


John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

But they also introduce a dozen other changes that worked with the age change so saying that the entire reduction is smokers was a result of the age change is a bit, well, quite normal for you.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

These laws (and that includes the liquor laws) are insane. Either you are an adult at 18 or you are not an adult at 18. It makes no sense (even if you are a rabid anti-smoking zealot). In the United States we hold that 18 you are an adult, you may marry, enter into legal contracts, join the military, be executed for a capital crime, even appear in a pornographic movie, but you can't drink a beer legally? And now more zealots want to raise the smoking age? Simply insane. You cannot legislate your views and force them on others.

Karol R.
Karol R3 years ago

You raise your children, teach them about the bad thiings in life, and if you do the job right, they make educated decisions as adults, right or wrong. At 18 if our government asks, or they choose, they get to go and fight and die for our values, but give them the credit to make their own decision about drinking or smoking at that age, "they are just babies". Let's make more inane laws, restrict everyones right to choose anything for themselves, let the government dictate everything since they obviously know best, interesting stance isn't it. What has happened to this country that we follow llike sheep. What has happened to free will and the right to make our own choices.Freedom, an interesting word, don't you think

Linda Tonner
Linda Tonner3 years ago

@ Natasha S.

Remember Prohibition? That didn't work either, except to make gangsters rich, and 'invent' the ghastly Nascar!