Politicians are proposing a new way to keep smokes out of the hands of kids. A measure in New York City would make the sale of cigarettes to anyone under 21 a crime -- the toughest law in any major American city. Considering no parent wants to see their kid puffing away, this should be a no-brainer, right?
Wrong! The proposed tobacco law sounds great on the surface, but there's one major problem parents have to face.
Kids don't wait until they can buy cigarettes to smoke them. In fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 90 percent of smokers had their first cigarette before age 18.
So much for legislating our kids away from the cancer sticks, huh?
Under the NY proposal, there wouldn't be a law against possession -- just sales -- so the idea of pushing the cigarette age to 21 is to cut access, thereby reducing the will to smoke.
Only we have proof that it doesn't work. Kids are already smoking well before the age of purchase. Which proves that the real problem comes before kids hit 18 and are able to buy. The real problem comes when we still have control over our kids.
We shouldn't be holding out hope that a law can keep our adult children from making bad choices. That we'd have to infantilize our adults to get them to act in a certain way is a scary sign of the future for America. It's a sign that parents aren't doing their jobs before kids get to adulthood.
It isn't the responsibility of lawmakers to keep our kids in line when they leave our clutches.
It's up to us, parents, to teach our kids that smoking is bad for them, to raise kids who will make good choices once they're legally able to make them.
Do you agree with raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21? Why?
Image via khawkins04/Flickr