Anti-tobacco lawsare just blowing smoke
The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly this week to bar smokers younger than 21 from buying cigarettes, other tobacco products and even electronic-vapor smokes in the Big Apple.
A councilman quoted by The Associated Press said he believes this will save many lives, and other parts of the country are looking at similar laws to set higher age minimums for tobacco sales.
Efforts to deter young people from smoking are commendable, but this law will do little to solve the problem of nicotine addiction among youth. According to the American Lung Association, most smokers try their first cigarette around age 11. Seventy percent of adult smokers started before they turned 18, and many were addicted by age 14.
If America wants to keep children and teenagers from smoking, current laws must be enforced, and those who sell to minors must be prosecuted.
In addition, aggressive education must start at early ages. Money is available for that through the 1998 settlement of lawsuits against tobacco companies. The problem is many states are not living up to their end of the deal.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, states will collect $24.7 billion from tobacco settlement money and taxes. They will spend only 1.8 percent of it on prevention aimed at keeping children from smoking.
Just as legislators fail to spend the settlement money appropriately, they now offer laws that are not aimed at solving the problem of tobacco addiction before it starts. Our children are paying for this indifference.
— The Joplin (Mo.) Globe