Monday, August 27, 2018

Illinois’ smoking age remains at 18

I almost find myself agreeing with Gov. Bruce Rauner, who recently used his veto power to kill off a bill that would have raised the age to 21 at which a person could legally buy a package of cigarettes or other tobacco products.

RAUNER: A VETO to smoking age hike
Currently, people have to be capable of showing they’re 18 or older in order to purchase cigarettes, or even those smokeless devices that supposedly allow one to experience the “joy” of smoking without exposure to tobacco.

RAUNER, IN ISSUING his veto of the measure, said that while he has no problem trying to discourage people from smoking, he doesn’t think this law will do a thing to achieve that goal.

In fact, Rauner is trying to view this as an Illinois economy issue – in that it would harm retailers who sell cigarettes by limiting the number of people they can legitimately sell their product to.

The governor actually thinks many people would just turn to surrounding states (if possible) to buy their cigarettes, since places like Indiana aren’t the least bit inclined to want to reduce their smoking ages.

In fact, the idea of people venturing across State Line Road to Indiana in order to make their cigarette purchases (at shops with generic names such as Smokes) is already a common practice. It would just have even younger people thinking in terms of doing their business elsewhere when it comes to cigarette purchases.

PERSONALLY, I’M AWARE that most people don’t even wait until turning 18 these days before picking up the nicotine habit. I recall my own school days when kids were usually around 12 or 13 when they first felt compelled to start smoking.

I can recall Junior High School days when those inclined to want to smoke knew exactly which local businesses (usually local gas stations, the grungier they were the better) would sell cigarettes to kids – and which were not.

Which means I don’t doubt there are some people more interested in their financial bottom line than in anybody’s health to continue their current practices – regardless of any stinkin’ law.
Are shops like this one in Hammond, Ind., the only real beneficiary of reducing the smoking age?
It may actually elevate the idea of selling cigarettes to minors (in some mini-minds) as somehow being a gesture toward personal freedom.

WHICH IS NONSENSE, of course. But it is one that is real.

It would take more than a change in the smoking age in order to actually stop teenagers so inclined to do so to actually not want to pick up a nicotine habit.

In my own case, cigarettes (and smoking, in general) was never a habit I ever sought to acquire. It was actually my father who (indirectly) made me not want to smoke because of the example he set.

No, he wasn’t any sort of tobacco teetotaler. My father was a cigarette smoker as a young man, and I can remember as a young child how much I hated the way he smelled as a result.

ACTUALLY, I WAS around many people who smoked in my family. But when I remember back, I think of the odor of my father as being the most repulsive.

My father has long-ago given up this habit, which I must admit makes being around him a bit more pleasant. But it’s such that I tend to think of being around people who smoke as being a tad too disgusting to endure.

So perhaps the key to discouraging cigarette smoking (and use of tobacco in general) is to make young people realize just how repulsive their action truly is.

Because actions such as what was pondered by the General Assembly this year (and vetoed by Rauner) is only going to make some people think of cigarettes as some sort of “achievement” in life they will gain the right to once they are “grown up.”


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