Increasing the smoking age strips personal freedom

By Gregory Jouvenat

On June 9, no vendor in the state of California will be able to sell tobacco products to persons under 21 years of age thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

California will be the second state in the nation “the first state being Hawaii ” to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. This law applies to cigarettes, dip and other various vaping products. While there are numerous health concerns that need to be addressed with tobacco, I do not believe that increasing the age to purchase smoking products is a step in the right direction.

The bill robs taxpaying Americans between the ages of 18 to 20 the right to decide for themselves whether or not the government will mess around with tobacco products. We all have a personal responsibility to our own health. Tobacco products will have a negative effect on your health. There is no argument that could change that fact. However, we do need to have the personal freedom and agency to make choices relating to our health.

In my opinion, once a person becomes old enough to pay taxes and contribute to a society, that person should be treated as an adult who can make grown-up decisions for himself or herself. It isn’t right or responsible to ease back and pawn such a decision off to the government.

Military personnel would be exempt from this ban. This is where my second issue with the bill arises. We are letting a governmental body decide whether or not a group of people can have or enjoy a specific product based solely off of age and occupation. If you are going to make a law, you should do so in a way that the new law would apply equally and fairly to everyone. Either make it impossible for everyone to purchase cigarettes before the age of 21 or keep the legal purchasing age at 18.

My next issue with this bill is that some of its supporters are saying that this bill is to protect the youth of this nation. Why is it that whenever citizens start losing rights, there is at least one person who feels the need to say that it is for our own protection? We are burdening ourselves with the crushing weight of protecting these people from themselves.

If someone decides that he or she wants to start smoking, he or she is going to find a way to start smoking. There are not many forces that can get in his or her way after he or she makes that decision ” legal or otherwise.

Instead of barring an entire demographic from purchasing tobacco products for the sake of health and safety, people who have struggled with nicotine addiction should sit down and open a dialogue with someone who is thinking of smoking. We should not wait until that person’s 18th or 21st birthday either. We should be willing to talk to our children about cigarette addiction before they become legally able to purchase these products so that they can make an informed decision for themselves.

Smoking age increase

Sungah Choi / The Poly Post

Smoking age increase

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