In The News

Why Big Tobacco and JUUL are lobbying to raise the smoking age

In an article written on USA Today, by Liz Essley Whyte, Is all about the huge efforts lawmakers are going to, to increase the age to buy tobacco products (including vape products) to 21.

It goes on to explain all the “big tobacco” companies that are in support for this age increase and talks about the number of lobbyists these companies employee. 

Where is the common sense or practicality in lawmaking?

A “minimum age” solves everything!

Setting minimum ages to legally engage in more dangerous activities seems like a good idea at first glance. They purport to “protect youth” from hazards until they’re mature enough to handle them, and to “save lives.” They prevent supposedly reckless experimentation during teen years that can solidify as problems in older ages. They establish a clear delineation between childhood and adult rights. And they’re very easy to pass here; those restricted are not thought to have rights worth respecting.

The United States has by far the most stringent, widespread, enforced age limits of any country for dozens of behaviors –access to alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, medicine, spray paint, guns, health care, abortions, driving, sex, R-rates movies, just about anything you can think of, and even being in public during certain hours. New and raised age limits and punishments are proposed all the time, recently including for tobacco. Interestingly, the age limits that remain low are those that serve grownup interests, such as the age at which an adult can legally have sex with a youth (16 in most states, and no higher than 18); the age at which one can join (or be compelled to join) the armed forces; and the age at which parents and the state are no longer required to financially support a youth (both 18). Youth rights are expendable; youth obligations are not.

But if minimum ages set at high levels make young people and society safer, then why does the United States also suffer by far the worst social and health crises of any Western (and most non-Western) countries? The U.S. has uniquely high and strict minimum-age laws for drinking alcohol (and has the Western world’s second-highest alcohol-abuse death rate; only Finland is worse). Also for prescription drug purchase (and the worst rate of drug abuse mortality, many times higher than in other affluent countries). And among the most restrictive for teen driving (and ranks near the bottom in traffic safety). And for guns and curfews (and the worst violent crime and gun violence levels). The same U.S.-is-the-worst pattern is evident for all ages and a host of other social problems, from homelessness to imprisonment.

So is increasing the age from 18 to 21 going to help?

From what I have seen, as well as taking many other opinions in to account, no. Here is what I think it’s going to do. 

As soon as the age is changed to 21, you are instantly adding more users to the “underage usage” narrative that we all know is going to be used to mount another massive attack against vaping. Also, these age increases come with exemptions for military members. Somehow its a crime to vape at 18, 19, or 20 years of age but if you join the military it’s ok?

Is this some kind of recruitment method being attempted by the government? We all know that almost every product that has some sort of “addiction” associated with it is the types of products that state and government like to use to their advantage to either profit from or control.

It would not be an overstep or, false statement to say that adding more laws generally do not fix the problem those laws were added to help. Common sense should tell you there is only so much we can do. We can’t stop people from truly doing what they want and if someone who is 20 years old has a friend who is 21 there is absolutely no way to stop them from buying the products for them.

Lawmakers are ignoring that accountability starts with the person, and then gradually may slide upwards depending on the situation and the potential for others involvement. Retail locations that sell age-restricted products are the first line of enforcement. It is their duty to ensure they follow the laws in place for those types of items. 

Now, I feel as though for the most part, they are doing a good job. If you as the state or government feel different, then do something about that, not punish legal users of the product by making it illegal for them now. You have to be 18 to buy tobacco product currently yet, you’re wanting to increase that age to 21 because 15-year-olds are using vape products? I’m unclear as to how that fixes the problem. If you have these people who are witnessing youth vaping then why are they going unpunished? Why are you just using them as fuel for your war on vaping?

Why has there been no talks or laws being passed to actually “enforce” the punishment for breaking the laws already in place? 

Below is the punishment for underage tobacco use

“The crime is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. However, anyone convicted of the crime twice or more within a year is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, with punishments of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.”

I have not heard of or seen any reports of arrests or tickets being given to your so-called “verified underage use”. Why are you allowing laws to be broken without punishment?

You see, its because deep down inside you know increasing the age to 21 is not going to have much of an effect on underage usage. Its currently and will continue to be nothing more then a barking parent making empty threats at their child and never following through with anything. You’re using the underage usage as a justification for taxability. 

If you really want to slow down and make an impact on underage vaping then start dishing out the $500 fines and jail time!

Stop just watching them vape and using that to further punish adults who want access to the best alternative to tobacco cigarettes.

Tim Court
Editor -In- Chief, The Vape Wire. Have something you think we should know? Contact me now @ newsdesk@thevapewire.com

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