AP NEWS

Ron Jackson: How do we stop smoking completely?

April 13, 2019

The quote, “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child” often is attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Whether he actually said it or not, its truth cannot be disputed.

The state of Illinois has made such an effort to stoop to help its children.

Beginning July 1, Illinois youth will no longer be able to purchase tobacco products.

There was a time in Illinois when you could get your driver’s license and buy a pack of cigarettes when you turned 16. However, since 1989, residents 18 and older have been allowed to buy tobacco products. That all changes when the new law takes affect. The new legal age limit will be 21.

Illinois joins nine other states that have passed Tobacco 21 laws. It is the first state in the Midwest to do so.

The goal of the Tobacco 21 initiative is to thwart the tobacco industry’s efforts to recruit new consumers at an early age.

An estimated 94 percent of all smokers begin smoking before 21.

At age 18, most smokers move from experimental to habitual.

By raising the buying age to 21, proponents argue there will be less opportunity for 18-year-old students supplying cigarettes to even younger youth.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, raising the tobacco buying age to 21 would mean a 12 percent reduction of new smokers by the time today’s teens are adults and a 10 percent decrease in smoking-related deaths.

Raising the buying age to 21 also reduces the percentage of teens who start smoking between the ages of 15 and 17 by 25 percent.

No one can argue against any strategic effort to protect and prolong the life potential of our youth.

No one can reasonably argue a healthier society doesn’t benefit all of us. Certainly, there have been opponents of the new tobacco buying law.

While saving lives is important, so is saving one’s economic livelihood.

In particular, tobacco retailers can expect to take a measurable financial hit beginning July 1.

The loss of sales of 10 packs of cigarettes per day is nothing to cough at.

Current legal tobacco consumers younger than age 21 will not stop smoking in two months. They will buy their goods from somewhere else, especially in communities that border our neighbor states that allow younger than 21 consumption.

Then, there is the argument that if a citizen is old enough to pick up a government-issued firearm in defense of domestic tranquility, why are they not old enough to pick up a fire stick to satisfy a personal urge.

If one is old enough to sign a business contract, shouldn’t they be old enough to make a personal decision?

At what age is every citizen allowed to take personal responsibility for their own health and well-being?

I have never been a smoker. There is no way I could comprehend the effect July 1 will have on anyone who has been smoking for a considerable part of their life.

Are current smokers younger than 21 expected to just quit firing up a smoke just days before we celebrate with fireworks?

Is their only choice to either quit smoking cold turkey or become a lawbreaker?

Why isn’t there a grandfather clause that would allow all smokers currently age 18 to 20 to continue their lifestyle?

It would be as simple as creating a new specially designated marker on a smoker’s identification card or driver’s license, for a fee, of course, that would be required to be shown at points of purchase.

If raising the smoking age a few years to reduce the number of new smokers by any number is a good idea, what is the age that would reduce the number of smokers to zero?

If smoking is really bad, why is it legal?