In December 2019, a new law in the United States went into effect stating that anyone under the age of 21 could no longer buy products that contained tobacco or nicotine. There has been a large amount of controversy regarding this law, not only for people who are under 21 but also those who exceed that age limit. Personally, I believe the law should have never been passed due to a few different reasons.
My main problem with the law is based on what else 18-year-olds are able or encouraged to do in life. Once someone turns eighteen, they are able to enlist into the military. They are honored and condemned for this sacrifice, yet many people do not think about what actually goes into it. Here is someone who just graduated from high school and can enter into a war at the risk of their lives and others. This decision to join the military affects the person for the rest of their life, even if they never make it to the battleground. People come home with mental health issues and scars from what they experienced, making them a completely different person than who they were in high school. Yet, here these 18-year-olds are encouraged to go and told risking their life is a decision they are eligible to make.
The tobacco law now makes it that 18-year-olds can harm their body with harsh chemicals and addictive substances found in things like cigarettes, vapes, and chewing tobacco. It may be true that 18-year-olds are too young to be able to decide what is good or bad for their bodies, and at 21 they will better be able to make this decision. However, these policies about age should be consistent across all life-threatening decisions.
Another thing that 18-year-olds are encouraged to do is to go to college right out of high school and pick their career path for the rest of their life. Not just that, they are spending thousands of dollars to get this degree, before they ever worked full-time jobs to save money. While I believe college helps people grow and mature, but at the same time, do people at eighteen really know what they want to do for the rest of their life? These life-altering decisions are pushed on people at this same age of maturity, et they are still too young to make the decision to start smoking.
If the United States wants to protect young people from harming themselves, they should reconsider the age that people are allowed to enter the military. They should encourage and make it easier for young people to work for a few years after high school before making a decision about college that will affect them for the rest of their life. After all, if they can do these things at age eighteen, the government should let them choose if they want to use tobacco or not,and start evaluating more important issues to our country.
by: Maggie Lauer
Last year alone, almost half a million people lost their lives to tobacco related illnesses. This number is average. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people meet their deathbeds due to years of smoking or some other form of tobacco consumption. Many of those who die due to tobacco-related illnesses started smoking as young teenagers.
Recently, 19 US states decided to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. This means that it would be illegal for 18-year-olds to buy tobacco now even though two months ago they were allowed. Even though I see and understand that people who smoke and use tobacco products are at more of a risk for various health issues, when asked about whether I agree or do not agree with the age to purchase tobacco products increased from 18 to 21, I really could not come to a firm decision.
I think about my relatives who have had lung cancer scares and family friends who struggle with persistent coughs. Although alcohol consumption has been more of a concern in my immediate family, I still saw how smoking impacted the health of those around me.
However, even though I am for tobacco bans in general due to the risks of the person partaking in the action and their community through secondhand smoking, there are some things I just cannot get behind when it comes to this ban.
The United States has this weird idea that if you ban something, everything associated with it will magically disappear. Will it? No, probably not. When increasing the age from 18 to 21 for purchasing tobacco products does not put in place what the country needs to do to assist those who are between 18-20 that will, all of the sudden, need to break an addictive habit.
What this increase in age needs is a system in place that helps those who may struggle with a tobacco addiction. I feel as though I want to get behind a rule that tries to eliminate something toxic from people, but instead, I cannot help but think who, in turn, would be vulnerable to the law change.
by: Kelsey Fiander-Carr
Sources: LA Times, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0313-males-teen-smoking-20160313-story.html