Mixed message in legislation
There is no health-based reason why New York should not raise the age at which one can buy cigarettes to age 21.
There is no disproving that smoking causes a multitude of health problems and creates a drain on public health programs. Legislation proposed in the state Senate is good policy except for one little detail — the state can’t make up its mind at which age someone is adult enough to be made responsible for their own bad decisions.
Until this year, 16-year-olds could be tried as adults for crimes. Now, the age of legal responsibility has been raised to age 18 by the same state that is saying 18-year-olds can’t make a reasoned decision not to ingest a harmful, and still legal, product.
And, let’s not forget that 18-year-olds are legally given the right to vote — a statement that they are adult enough to make informed decisions that affect the welfare of their friends and neighbors. Those same youth are now not mature enough to buy cigarettes in the eyes of some state senators.
The Senate’s legislation is well-intentioned and should be approved. We hope the state Legislature is cognizant, however, of the mixed messages they are sending about adulthood and the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.