If the minimum age was raised to 19 years old, smoking prevalence would decrease 3 percent by 2100. It would decrease by 12 and 16 percent in the same period if the legal age was raised to 21 or 25 years old, according to the study conducted by the influential Institute of Medicine and a panel of experts.
U.S. smoking rates have dropped sharply from 42 percent of the population in 1964 to 18 percent today. Along with many other measures aimed at curbing smoking during that period, states have established minimum legal ages, mostly at 18 years old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which sponsored the report, cannot increase the minimum age to buy tobacco in the country from 18, but states and local authorities can do so.
Four states - Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah - have increased the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 19 years old. New York City and some cities in Massachusetts have increased it to 21 years old.
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