Now 21

January 9, 2020

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Anchor lead: What will be the impact of federal government action to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21? Elizabeth Tracey reports

You’ll have to be 21 anywhere in the US to buy tobacco products legally, new federal legislation provides. Panagis Galiatsatos, a lung expert at Johns Hopkins, hopes it helps in our current epidemic of vaping among youth, with 55 deaths and more than 2500 hospitalizations reported recently.

Galiatsatos: The issue of raising the age to 21 is great, it’s a victory. The evidence showcases that one of the main risk factors to drive relapse back to smoking is age that you started smoking. So the younger you are, the more likely you are to relapse. And the reason why that’s the case is the parts of the brain that nicotine influences don’t stop evolving ‘til the age of 25. If you’re introducing nicotine in an abundant manner and in a chemically enhanced manner like a cigarette or an e-cigarette does, that nicotine and that rewiring its doing it’s likely to create that molding of the brain to be permanent.  :30 

Galiatsatos says while he applauds this new law, his own patients who are younger than 21 typically obtain vaping products from friends or simply lie about their age in online purchases, so there’s more work to be done to limit access. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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