To the Editor:
This proposal is sound public policy, grounded in medical research on the disproportionate effects of smoking on the teen brain, and it recognizes the significant reductions in teen smoking projected to result from increasing the age limits on tobacco sales.
Addiction is a complex brain disease that in 9 out of 10 cases originates in adolescence. Research shows that the human brain is still developing through the mid-20s, making young people especially vulnerable to the effects of tobacco and other addictive substances.
The earlier tobacco use starts, the greater the chances of other drug use.
Smoking initiation is a function of a complex set of environmental, psychological and genetic factors, including access to cigarettes and perceptions of harm associated with their use.
No one prevention approach is sufficient; raising the age of legal sale is one important and promising component of a larger city strategy.
Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia)