Wednesday, April 24, 2013

21 smoking age? Who’s kidding whom!

I recall a conversation I once overheard between I couple of guys I knew – one of whom was upset that a local gas station would no longer sell him cigarettes without giving him a hassle.

Got to get to them young to stop smoking
The two guys then went through a list of local businesses, literally identifying which ones were willing to provide the tobacco products with ease, which would not and which would require a certain amount of dickering around with the sales clerk!

THIS MAY SOUND like a picayune matter. Something rather petty and a complete waste of conversational time.

Except when one considers that this conversation took place about a third of a century ago (I really am getting that old) back when I was in Junior High School.

Which means I was 12. So were the other guys – neither of whom was a really close friend. But they weren’t exactly enemies or hostile toward me either, just like many people we all encounter in our lives.

This moment of my life popped into my head when I read the newspaper headlines over the stories saying that 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas wanting to impose a new city ordinance creating a minimum age of 21 to be able to purchase cigarettes.

THE IDEA THAT anybody is waiting until anywhere near the age of 21 before deciding whether to take up smoking is such a silly thought. What a joke!

It almost makes me want to laugh something along the lines of Nelson Muntz from “The Simpsons” – who would probably then light up a cigarette and take a few puffs to show how ridiculous the concept truly is.

The idea that raising the minimum age at which someone can legitimately buy a package of cigarettes from 18 to 21 will do anything to reduce the amount of cigarette smoking is just downright absurd.

It really was at that much younger age that my generation picked up on the tobacco habit. If anything, I was always the exception in finding the very smell of cigarettes and sight of stubbed cigarette ash to be repulsive that I never took up the habit.

MOST OF THE people I knew who got into smoking started out at that very young age.

By the time they were 18 or 21 or whatever, they were too-well hooked on the habit that quitting was quite an ordeal.

While I am aware that there are statistics indicating that fewer young people are actually smoking on a regular basis, my gut reaction tells me that they are getting attracted to the nicotine habit at the same young age.

Heck, I have a 10-year-old niece whom I wouldn’t be surprised to see smoking someday (her mother, also my step-sister, smokes). Although I was pleasantly pleased one time when she happened to be in my automobile (a 16-year-old Saturn sedan) and she got offended at the sight of a cigarette lighter in the dashboard.

NEWER CARS JUST label that device as an outlet for the cellphone charger – which is how I use it.

But it makes me happy to know that someone has tried to put a message in her head that the use of tobacco products isn’t the nicest of habits one can acquire.

If we really want to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking, we have to get at them at that young age – 10, 12. Thirteen may be as old as one can get and have the message have any impact.

Focusing on 21? Cardenas might as well be one of those people who thinks that you can make people healthier by eliminating the 32-oz. tubs of pop at the movie theater!


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