I was dumb and picked up a serious smoking habit at almost 26 years old. I had smoked on occasion for years, but it wasn’t until my first child was almost five years old that I picked it up in earnest. According to my friends who are smokers, I barely smoke now and should easily be able to quit. My problem is I’ve always been a social smoker and my husband smokes and so do ninety percent of my friends.
Why am I admitting to this dirty little secret for those of you who don’t know me personally? Because I didn’t start smoking at 18, I didn’t start seriously smoking at 21, nope I started almost five years after that.
I believe there are things in this world that the government needs to regulate and I think smoking is a horrible, disgusting habit (one that I really need to give up). However, the announcement by the FDA that they were changing the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 really irked me. How have we became a nation where the federal government feels that they should be able to tell an adult what they can or cannot do in such a wide ranging manner.
The way they went about it doesn’t sit well with me either. It was slid into a large and all encompassing spending bill that was aimed at preventing another government shutdown. I’ve never been a fan of allowing representatives to attach a bunch of other issues to such large and important bills and this is exactly why. There had been talk ahead of time that such a law could happen and when the bill was first signed it was being reported that it would take approximately nine months for the new law to go into effect. Then several days after President Trump signed the bill the FDA announced that the bill had gone into effect immediately.
When the drinking age had been raised to 21 (with the federal government twisting the arms of states like Idaho) people who had already reached the then drinking age of 18, were grandfathered in and still allowed to drink. My first thought on reading about this new regulation was, so are people who were 18 before Dec. 20, 2019, going to still be allowed to purchase tobacco? Nope, these young adults who have picked up one of the most addictive habits known to mankind are supposed to just quit instantly, cold turkey. They are no longer able to buy their crutch and are committing a crime by still using a product that the makers of, do everything they can to make as addictive as possible.
It is said that the bill is aimed at keeping tobacco away from high school students because 21 year olds are outside of their social circle. First off, just like alcohol, if there’s a will, there’s a way. This is just adding another way for young adults to end up in the system, a system that sometimes takes them a long time to escape from, as they get caught in an endless cycle of small charges for things like not paying fines or, in this case, re-offending, because they are still addicted to tobacco and nothing has been done to help address this addiction issue in this new law.
So what happens if a parent or grandparent feels bad for their 20 year old who has been smoking for two years and buys them a pack of cigarettes or a can of chew? Well they are now committing a crime too. I don’t think this was properly thought out at all.
Then there is the case to be made about what an 18 year old is allowed to do and not allowed to do. They can vote for elected officials (you know, the ones who chose to ignore this issue because it was piggybacked onto a much larger bill), but they can’t decide if they want to use tobacco. They can enlist in the military and be sent off to serve in Afghanistan (you know that endless “war” that is as old as them), but they are a criminal if they smoke a cigarette.
Government is in place to “protect the fundamental rights of the people” its job is to protect one’s person and property. I have studied history and government for a long time and at no point before the failed attempt at prohibition of alcohol, did our forefathers ever take it upon themselves to tell us what we are allowed to consume. When it comes to our bodies they are to protect it from bodily harm committed by others, not tell us whether or not as an adult with free will, we are or are not allowed to use tobacco, drink alcohol or for that matter even use marijuana. I am firmly of the belief that the federal government has gone too far in their attempts to regulate the daily lives of United States Citizens and we, the people who vote them into power, need to take a close look at the constitution. We need to study the history of our nation and the role the founding fathers had in mind for the government and say we aren’t going to allow them to continue to usurp power that was never meant for them.