An 18-year-old customer at Peace Smokeshop and Vape Peoria customer was shocked when he tried to buy tobacco last week.
Manager Adam Setter told him he was too young.
“I heard rumors you had to be 21, but I had no clue it was actually happening,” said the customer, who asked to be identified as Nate
Nate said he is 18, and smokes daily. He said he believes he is old enough to decide if he wants to smoke.
“I’m joining the military, so I think I should be able to smoke,” Nate said.
The Food and Drug Administration stunned many in late December when it raised the age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21. Retailers around the West Valley said they were not anticipating this; however, some understand the benefits the new law can bring.
Setter agrees people who are unable to purchase tobacco products are generally upset. He said many people are now forced to immediately quit smoking, something which is normally done as a part of a process, Setter said.
“It takes a process (to quit smoking),” Setter said. “Right now, for those who are addicted, they have to quit right away. There’s no substitution for it and it could be painful for someone who’s been smoking since they’re 18.”
Fawaz Kanan, owner of Planet Zong Smoke Shop in Glendale, said the new regulation will negatively impact his business but might be good for the community.
“It’s good and it’s not good,” Kanan said. “It’s good to control the kids who want to smoke, but it’s not good for our business.”
On Dec. 20, Congress passed a bill raising the legal age to smoke or vape to 21. President Donald Trump signed the law the same day. A week later, the FDA issued a statement: “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product — including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes — to anyone under 21.”
Kanan said many of his customers were under 21. Yet he said he is content with the new regulation if it benefits young adults.
Planet Zong Smoke Shop has been turning away customers under 21 since the new law went into effect, Kanan said, even though it will impact profits.
He said he may be forced to raise his prices to make up for the lost profit.
“It’s going to affect my sales, for sure,” Kanan said of the new law. “But at the same time, it can affect the user of whoever wants to buy from me as well because I have to raise my prices to cope with the whole matter.”
When asked if he thought this new smoking age limit was a good idea, Kanan said, “For my business, no. But for the population, I hope it will. It will control the kids who want to smoke, and it will affect them. I hope so.”
Kanan may have a point with his hopeful stand on the law benefiting future generations, as sources say it could bring health benefits to the nation.
According to the American Lung Association, a report from the National Academy of Medicine said raising the smoking age to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019 and reduce lung cancer deaths by 50,000.
Omar Salmin, manager of Arizona Smokers in Glendale, said he was shocked when he first heard the news, but business owners must fall in line unless they want to lose their licenses.
“It brings good things and bad things,” Salmin said. “The good things are for the kids because they’re not going to get addicted so young. Everybody is going to lose business and a lot of money.”
Salmin said young adults under 21 who are being turned away from his store are generally upset. He said his phone won’t stop ringing with customers asking about the new regulation.
“I know my friend who was in the military was (upset) because he likes to smoke because of stress and now he can’t,” Salmin said.