Raising tobacco age will only cause more problems

Smokin21 Colby Patterson
Nick Ketterer

Nick Ketterer

There is a law being discussed at the Utah State Capitol that would raise the legal age for smoking tobacco to 21. This would make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy, posses or distribute tobacco. While the motives behind this law are altruistic, it stands to do more harm than good in the long run.

We are constantly reminded of how bad smoking is for your health. However, tobacco is not the only massively marketed product that is bad for you. TV can be addicting, fast food restaurants are terrible for you and most food items at the grocery are more chemicals than food. There are no age restrictions on those products, yet they can be just as bad for you as tobacco.

This double standard exists because smoking has become such a social stigma. There are a multitude of laws that exist to control people’s smoking behavior. It’s illegal to smoke within 50 feet of most businesses, and it’s illegal to sell tobacco to minors.

Smoking is a personal choice, just as eating fast food is. Both have consequences that can negatively affect the body, and in general, neither are laden with positive connotations. Yet the state legislature has made no move to outlaw fast food joints. Why is the state targeting smokers? If the ultimate goal really is reducing the number of smokers in Utah, raising the legal age is not the answer. All that will be accomplished with this legislation is a further criminalization of smoking tobacco.

Smoking should not be a crime — it is just a stupid decision. These are young adults who can vote and enlist in the military, but if they smoke it’s a crime. Something is wrong here.

As former president Ronald Reagan said, “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” When someone makes the decision to smoke, they do so as an adult. Tobacco is an extremely addictive substance, just like alcohol and many prescription drugs. If you really want to have people smoke less, then a more integrated approach is necessary.

In the end, smoking is a stupid decision that needs to be talked about openly. As Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R-West Valley City) said, “At the end of the day, I hate the idea of the government telling people they can’t do stupid things.”