The California Legislature has passed a bill, and the Governor is expected to sign it, which increases the age at which one may purchase or consume tobacco products to 21.
I’m not, generally, in favor of smoking tobacco. My grandmother died of lung cancer. My mother died of lung cancer. A close aunt is currently struggling with lung cancer. My husband’s uncle recently died because of lung cancer. Smoking-induced lung cancer is a plague upon humanity, and people who smoke tobacco frequently find themselves unable to give up the habit once they’ve started.
What does adulthood mean, if it doesn’t mean that one is free to make one’s own choices? The California Legislature appears to believe that an eighteen year old is old enough to decide to donate her kidney (and go the rest of the life without one), but not old enough to decide to take up smoking (and assume the attendant risk). The California Legislature appears to believe that an eighteen year old is old enough to vote for or against a ballot measure to legalize marijuana, but not old enough to decide to smoke tobacco. The California Legislature appears to believe that an eighteen year old is old enough to enter into contracts assuming huge amounts of debt, but not old enough to decide to smoke tobacco.
This makes no sense at all.
If tobacco smoking is really so singular that the decision can’t be made by someone who can undertake normal contractual activity, then what’s the basis for believing that a 21-year-old can make the decision, or a 30-year old, or anyone at all? Contrariwise, if it isn’t so singular, why should the law treat it as though it is?
The legislature was wrong to pass this. The governor will be wrong to sign it. And the people should repeal it by referendum.
I won’t lead the charge for that; while this law offends me, it’s just another one of those things, in the end. But I’ll support the charge if someone leads it.