Scientists want the legal age to start smoking raised to 22 – – Our News, Your Views

Scientists want the legal age to start smoking raised to 22

Researchers suggest that young people should be banned from buying tobacco products until the age of 22, after a study found that those who started smoking before the age of 20 had a harder time quitting, reports RTE.

Raising the minimum age for governments around the world could reduce nicotine addiction, researchers say.

A group in Japan studied 1,382 smokers who visited a smoking cessation clinic in Kyoto.

The patients were divided into two groups depending on the age at which they started smoking – less than 20 years or 20 years or more.

They all completed the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), a standard tool used to assess the severity of a person’s physical dependence on nicotine.

The test asked questions such as, “how soon after you wake up do you smoke your first cigarette?’ and ‘how many cigarettes per day do you smoke?’, with patients giving a score for each answer, reprots RTE.

This number is then added up to low (one-two), low to moderate (three-four), medium (five-seven), or high (eight or more) dependence.

Exhaled carbon monoxide was also measured to determine the number of cigarettes smoked in the past 24 hours.

About 556 smokers started smoking before age 20 – the legal age in Japan – and 826 started smoking later.

Those who started smoking before age 20 smoked 25 cigarettes a day, compared to 22 a day in the group that started smoking late.

The research have been presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2023 in Amsterdam.

Author Dr Koji Hasegawa, of the National Hospital Organisation Kyoto Medical Centre, said: “Our results show that starting smoking early is linked with higher nicotine dependency, even in young adulthood. The study indicates that increasing the legal age to buy tobacco to 22 years or older could lead to a reduction in the number of people addicted to nicotine and at risk of adverse health consequences,” reports RTE.

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