EDITORIAL: Tobacco 21 law sets unfair precedent

Staff Editorial

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Tobacco 21 bill last week after it passed in the Illinois House and Senate, making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy or use tobacco products including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.

While we at The Daily Eastern News recognize the negative health effects associated with the use of tobacco products and do not condone or promote the use of them, we do not support any bill or legislation that restricts the rights of adults ages 18-20 to purchase and use at their own discretion products of their choice.

In the U.S., any person over the age of 18 is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Once the age of 18 is reached by any person in the U.S., they can be tried in a court of law as an adult, saddle themselves with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and serve in wars overseas in the military. Whenever someone between the ages of 18-20 does any of those things, rarely does anyone bat an eye; in these situations, they are considered adults and should be treated as such.

But in the state of Illinois, these same adults who can be sent to prison, buried in debt and fight in wars now cannot buy or smoke a cigarette at their leisure, and they can even be punished for doing so. To us, the Editorial Board of The News, the idea that an adult cannot use tobacco or have a drink by their own free will seems backwards when compared to other standards set for people ages 18-20.

The use of tobacco, and alcohol for that matter, carry undeniable health risks that The News does not imply to ignore or disagree with it. Instead, we make the argument that if it is OK for a person 18-20 years old to buy a house, join the military or take out a loan, should not that same person have the right use a tobacco or drink alcohol?

In the same way it can be argued that smoking is bad for someone, the same argument could be made in the case of taking out a $20,000 loan for school. Regardless, if an adult wants to make a choice to smoke a cigarette, in the U.S. and in Illinois, they should be allowed to do so at their own discrepancy.

It is demeaning to call someone an adult and treat them as such in every aspect of their life, but at that same time tell that person they are too young to use tobacco.

The state of Illinois should take a long look and think hard about the precedent they are setting by making laws that restrict the freedoms of adults ages 18-20 because if people in that age group are to be subjected to differential treatment as adults in cases that the government picks and chooses, then perhaps the concept of what makes someone an adult as a whole needs to be re-looked.

The Editorial staff can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].