When the argument was raging about the legal drinking age, those for keeping it at 18 used the motto, "Old enough to fight and vote, old enough to drink and smoke." Nevertheless, in 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which required states to raise their legal drinking ages to 21 by October 1986 or lose 10% of their federal highway funds.  That did the trick, because all 50 states and the District of Columbia all raised their drinking ages to 21.

Now there are those that feel the legal smoking age should be raised from 18 to 21. One of them is Louisiana State Representative Frank Hoffman from West Monroe. Hoffman is the author of a House Resolution that calls for the State Health Department to study the feasibility of increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 in the state of Louisiana.

In a report by the Louisiana Radio Network, Hoffman said the House wants to know, "What are the health cost savings...just to take a look at statistics to see if this makes sense to do."

According to a study conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services about 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. Another study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the idea of raising the smoking age is  is popular with the public.  Three quarters of adults surveyed were in favor of raising the age to 21, including seven out of every 10 smokers.

Hoffman says there is evidence that upping the legal smoking age to 21 would mean more people would choose not to smoke.  He says, "That's not for sure, but I think statistics do show they would never start at all."

The state's study should be finished in time for the next regular session of the legislature.




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