Smoke Up, Johnnie…But Not Until Age 21


A bipartisan bit of "nanny-statism" headed for the state legislature, as the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports:

Anyone under the age of 21 no longer would be able to smoke cigarettes under a bill to be introduced into the Colorado Legislature in the coming weeks.

The bill, which is to be introduced by Republicans and Democrats, would raise the legal age to use any tobacco product from 18 to 21, putting it in line with other legal vices, such as alcohol and marijuana…

“It offers consistency in the law,” [sponsor Sen. Steve King] said. “Gambling’s 21, alcohol is 21, marijuana is 21. It seems to me that those potentially addictive behaviors … we should have good consistent policies about regulating that behavior.”

The yet-to-be-introduced bill reportedly has bipartisan sponsorship, Reps. Cheri Gerou (R) and Beth McCann (D) in the House, and Sens. Steve King (R) and John Kefalas (D) in the Colorado Senate. A few other states including Utah are considering a similar increase in the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years of age.

A consistent age to buy all forms of vice consumable products does make a kind of sense, and with the harmful effects of smoking clearly understood today, it's difficult to argue that the "right" to buy cigarettes at age 18 is worth defending.

The only thing we would add is that as the "Amsterdam of North America," it might indeed be a good idea for Colorado to demonstrate some public health prudence in some form.

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    as the "Amsterdam of North America,"

    Hey, Vancouver resents that!

  2. Ralphie says:

    Good plan.  Let's turn even more kids into criminals.

  3. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    I have trouble seeing this as a public health issue. From my vantage point this is just another link in the chain around young people that I  call "junior majority". It's a double standard that has been increasiingly aplied in the state and around the country. People are being held responsible for criminal behavior at younger and younger ages and restricted from adult privileges until they are older and older.

    How can an eighteen year old be held responsible for a crime and put on trial for his life when he's not judged responsible enough to decide if he wants to indulge in alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis? That would make an interesting defense for some 19 year old being tried in an adult court. 

    I am really tired of this attitude and it needs to stop.

  4. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    How about making it about selling to anyone under 21 and use it the way we do carding for alcohol? The tobacco industry has long targeted young teens because they know their product kills off their customers, they need new ones and most new smokers start and get hooked young or don't start at all.  

    It won't stop all young people from smoking but the drinking age doesn't stop all underage drinking either. It does make it a little harder.  I don't see why carding for cigs should create any more criminals than carding for alcohol or pot.  And, unlike alcohol or pot, there is no such thing as sensible smoking that won't do you grave harm. While we're at it, why not encourage tobacco growers to grow useful harmless hemp instead.

  5. Not Dame Edna says:

    This story is not clear on who will be penalized, the buyers or the sellers. Has anyone actually read the bill?


  6. dwyer says:

    The whole age thing is crazy. When I was young, you could drink 3.2 at 18; be drafted at 19; but not vote until 21.  Now, you can vote at 18, but not even drink beer until 3.2 – which has created two generations that routinely break that law and "adults" who silently condone……

    Make voting, smoking, and drinking legal at 18. PERIOD.

  7. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    My point exactly, Dwyer. Either you're an adult or you're not. Make everything 18 or 21. But no prosecuting underage kids "as adults". I've had it with this picking and choosing to favor the powereful.So now what will the prohibitionist law-and-order types say?


    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Agree there. Pick an age and make it uniform.  There is no point to having a legal system that sometimes treats people under a certain age as not yet adult and sometimes doesn't.  As far as sending kids off to be warriors I would have no problem with raising the age for combat to 21, limiting kids right out of High School to training and non-combat roles in the military until they reach that age. But whether the arbitrary line is drawn at 18, 21 or somewhere in between, make it uniform. Make one age the age for legal majority, drinking, smoking, voting, being tried as an adult, etc.

  8. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Put a 19 yr. old in a uniform, give him a gun, teach him to kill people…and then tell him he is too young to smoke???

    Too fucking ridiculous….

  9. CallumMcCalmanCallumMcCalman says:

    more and more young people fall into addiction to nicotine. I do not know if there is any teeth is a way to reduce the number of smokers. wydruk wielkoformatowy poznań

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