Plan to raise smoking age insults young adults

Old enough to fight and die in our armed forces, get married, go into debt, and run for state office, but not old enough to smoke?

A new bi-partisan proposal in the Washington state Legislature put forward by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson aims to increase the smoking age in our state to 21 in an effort to save lives. Their action is certainly commendable, but an insult to the youth of Washington state.

When we allow 18 year old citizens to serve in our armed forces and state guard, to run for the legislature, and to get in debt for a car or a home or for school, how can we turn around and tell those very same citizens that they are too young to make the decision as to whether or not they want to smoke?

As it is right now, there is growing opposition to the 21-year-old drinking age in our nation for the very same reasons. So our Legislature’s bright idea is to exacerbate the situation by raising the smoking age as well? This is quite possibly one of the worst things we could do.

Aside from the egregious insult to those who are 18 to 20 years old, this would only encourage more “underage” smoking. As many of you are aware, with a smoking age of 18 years old, underage smoking is at an all time low of roughly 7 percent. However, if we were to raise the smoking age for an entire group of citizens accustomed to the ability to smoke, we cannot logically expect them to stop. Instead, they would be forced to continue their habit illegally.

So as a citizen of Washington state, someone who’s rights would be taken away by the passage of this legislation, and an activist, I am pleading with our legislature to not adopt this proposal. It is not right for Washington state, and it would be a disservice to our people.

Instead, think of better solutions to the issue of smoking among youth. Provide free treatment to those attempting to quit, increase funding to our state’s ad campaign against smoking, increase funding for health in public schools where we can teach kids about the dangers of smoking. Anything but this.

Jacob Gloss is president of the Washington State High School Democrats.

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