3 smoke-free years can make big difference

I strongly support the measure to raise the minimum legal age for buying and using tobacco from 18 to 21 ("Proposal to raise smoking age to 21"; Wednesday).

All of us know the dangers of smoking and its health impacts.

But people still get tempted to try smoking and they get addicted to it over time. 

Some may argue that 18- and 21-year-olds do not look too different and that the health impacts on both are the same in the long run.

But the age at which one is allowed to start smoking makes a huge difference.

Currently, more than 80 per cent of smokers start smoking at the age of 18 or younger, and gradually, they develop the habit of smoking all day.

If we are able to increase the minimum age, the percentage is likely to decrease and, perhaps, a more mature 21-year-old might choose not to start smoking in the first place.

In addition, smoking harms not just the smoker but also his friends and relatives.

Even if it is just raising the minimum age by a year, a year of not smoking makes a difference for the smoker's loved ones.

Imagine how much more difference three years would make.

Hence, we should all agree to raise the minimum age so as to protect our loved ones from second-hand smoke and reduce the percentage of young adults who smoke.

Jong Ching Yee (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline '3 smoke-free years can make big difference'. Print Edition | Subscribe