Theodore Dalryrimple asks: Should The Age to Buy Cigarettes Be 21? Excerpt:
While Colorado permits the use of marijuana by those over 21 for any purpose, New York City prepares to prevent sales of tobacco to anyone under the age of 21. An article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine comes out strongly in favor of this more restrictive approach to the sale of tobacco. The arguments it uses and those it refutes are instructive.
Those who go on to smoke throughout their lives generally start at an early age: earlier, that is, than 21. Thus if adolescents could be discouraged from smoking, rates of smoking among adults would decline markedly.
My answer? Not only no, but hell no. In fact, since we seem to have established the legal age of majority at 18 for the purposes of the franchise, then there is no rationale argument, morally or ethically, for raising the bar higher for any other reason. If at 18 a person is deemed too irresponsible to drink a beer, hold a concealed-carry permit or buy a pack of smokes, then why the hell do we let them vote?
Enough of the incremental-adulthood bullshit. If you’re an adult, you’re an adult. That age will always be somewhat arbitrary, but it has to be set somewhere. Since we have a Constitutional amendment setting it at 18 for voting purposes, then that’s our bar. When you’re 18, you should be able to:
- Buy a handgun and apply for a carry permit, subject to the same requirements as any other adult.
- Drink a beer, or a shot of whiskey, or a martini. Or, in Colorado, buy some weed.
- Join the military.
- Sign a contract.
- Buy smokes.
- And anything else that requires legal majority.
Sure, 18-year olds are sometimes (OK, frequently) immature, impulsive, irrational, irresponsible. And sometimes they aren’t. 18 is an age of transition, where you have one foot each in two different worlds. So, once again – why do we let them vote?
The point isn’t so much where the age is set – the thing is to have it set at the same bar for everything. No more incrementalism. You’re an adult or you aren’t.
Alice said it best.