PERSPECTIVES: Should the smoking age be raised to 100?

Illustration by Maia Wiederhold

Raising smoking age restricts freedom
By Maia Wiederhold, illustrator.

In the 1950s, smoking was your one-way ticket into the cool kids’ club. Unaware of the damage that smoking cigarettes can have on our bodies, the majority of society engaged in this activity throughout their daily lives. Seventy years later, it is a lot less popular among Americans and the government has placed many taxes and other regulations on who can smoke and how and where they can smoke.

Most recently, Hawaii State Representative Richard Creagan proposed a bill that suggests the legal age to smoke or buy cigarettes should be raised to 30 in 2020, and then gradually increasing each year until finally reaching the irrational age of 100 years old in 2024. Not only does this take away the freedom to do as one wishes from the people, but it is also irrational to believe that putting this law into effect will cease smoking entirely.

Once the news broke that smoking cigarettes may not be the healthiest habit to acquire, there have been many programs and policies put in place to discourage the buying and employing of tobacco products. The government and other organizations have done everything they can to warn people of the negative side effects that smoking may have.

Despite being aware of these hazards, there are still many who choose to smoke for their own personal reasons. As long as smokers are thoroughly informed of the risks, there is no sound logic that their right to make an informed decision should be taken away. This proposed legislation is denying people of their freedom to cope with negative emotions or stress how they see fit for themselves.

The government has already put laws in place that make it illegal to smoke in enclosed public places. This means that there is little to no secondhand smoking being exchanged among people who choose not to smoke. The only person that the smoking harms is the person that chooses to partake in the activity. If smokers are willing to pay the taxes for their cigarettes and deal with the repercussions, let them!

Alcohol and weed similarly have negative health effects, yet the law requiring the legal age to drink to be 21 has been in place for 40 years, and marijuana has just recently been legalized among many states. Other tobacco products, such as vape pens, cigars and hookah, are not being regulated under this ban. These products are believed to be considered “safer” than cigarettes, yet they still expose you to nicotine and can cause a tobacco addiction. Why should smoking cigarettes be regulated when these other activities are glorified in the media and within society?

By raising the legal cigarette smoking age to 100 years Hawaii is essentially making all cigarette usage illegal, considering the average lifespan for a Hawaiian is approximately 80 years old. Not only are freedoms being taken away from citizens but the government is losing out on the income from the taxes on cigarettes. Americans have seen from experience that by banning any substance, it only encourages the use and selling of it illegally. If the health risks and heavy taxes have not already convinced smokers to quit, then this bill certainly will not do the job either. There will always be a way for consumers to get what they want, so why take away their rights to do it legally?

Smoking kills and should be criminalized
By Kelly Winters, multimedia reporter.

In recent news, a Hawaiian bill banning anyone under the age of 100 from smoking cigarettes was recently proposed. This proposal begs the question as to if other states should jump on to this idea sooner rather than later or even if at all.

It is no secret that smoking cigarettes is one of the biggest killers that Americans face. In addition to causing a slew of cancers and contributing to heart disease, the negative effects of smoking can slow even the most energetic of today’s youth.

Personally, I’m all for having free will and think that it’s important to have freedom to choose whether or not someone can decide to enjoy a cigarette. However, (as a non-smoker), I do not see any major payoffs that smokers can benefit from. Because of this, I think the world, or America at the very least, could revive some justice by raising the age of smoking to 100.

Sure — if done within the decade or so, there would be some problems with those who are currently hooked on smoking. But, any measures that would be needed to help those people would be well worth the years of their life that they are preserving.

What would America look like if the large majority of the population couldn’t obtain cigarettes? First of all, most cigarettes manufacturers would most likely go under due to the significantly lower demand and citizens would start going to extreme length to illegals buy them or start making them. America would have to draw a definitive line between that is allowed and what isn’t. Would tobacco be legal? Or would only nicotine be banned? And, most of all… what defines a cigarette?

Yes, putting this all into play seems like something that would take a lot of work and almost an entire generation to eradicate. However, isn’t all that work worth seeing our citizen live to see greater ages?

And who knows! Maybe if we raise the age of legally obtaining cigarettes to 100, maybe people will actually start living long enough to be able to smoke them again!

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