In the land of the free, you can join the military, get shipped off to war, have both of your legs blown off—for your country—all at the age of 18. However, if you try to smoke a cigarette or use tobacco in that same land of the free, at this age, you will now be prosecuted by the law.
On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.
The law was signed earlier this month but there was no exact day the law would go into effect. It was expected to be phased in throughout the next six to nine months. However, it appears that timeline was moved forward, swiftly.
It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under the age of 21 years.
— FDA Tobacco (@FDATobacco) December 21, 2019
Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco is a bad decision. It is terrible for your health and roughly 1,500 people die every single day in America from cigarette smoking related illness. However, it is your bad decision to make.
The idea that the government cares about the citizens when it moves to ban things or restrict certain groups from obtaining them is as insulting as it is asinine. As TFTP has shown on multiple occasions, banning and restricting does nothing to curb demand. It only makes the product come out on the black market—often times more dangerous and sold in shady markets which causes an increase in crime. It also turns millions of otherwise entirely innocent people into criminals. In this case, literally, overnight.
In fact, this is already happening. In Texas, students in public schools face arrest and imprisonment for using vaping products. Seriously. According to a recent article in the Texas Tribune, the state has rolled out a draconian teen police state to crack down on vaping. They have gone so far as to install “vape detecting” sensors in school hallways that snitch on students and get them arrested.
Aside from the trampling of liberty and converting of innocent tobacco users, aged 18-20, into criminals overnight, enforcement of this ridiculous law will cost taxpayers millions.
Libertarian Congressman Thomas Massie pointed out the police state tax increase that will stem from unannounced inspections and the cost to implement them.
Hardly a peep today about the federal government banning sales of tobacco products to 18,19, and 20 year old adults yesterday.
The cost to implement… $18,580,790 per year. Hey folks, no one said this nanny state was going to be cheap.
Also, random unannounced inspections! pic.twitter.com/OY7GPqGiNf
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 18, 2019
What’s more, it won’t do a damn thing to stop kids from smoking. The legal age to consume alcohol has been 21 for decades and it has done absolutely nothing to curb teen use. Kids who want to drink booze will find a way to get it. Marijuana has been illegal for anyone under 21 in legal states and kids are caught with it all the time. Also, it’s illegal for everyone in non-legal states and millions of Americans still use it.
As Reason magazine pointed out:
The evidence for the efficacy of a 21-and-up policy for nicotine purchases is also pretty thin. An oft-cited example is Needham, Massachusetts, which raised its smoking age to 21 in 2005, and subsequently saw a much greater drop in the teen smoking rate than surrounding towns.
As Michelle Minton, a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, pointed out in a November blog post, these extraordinary declines in teen smoking in Needham were temporary. Teen smoking was soon falling faster in neighboring towns that had not adopted a higher smoking age. Indeed between 2012 and 2014, teen smoking in Needham actually increased.
Minton speculates that by cutting those under 21 off from buying e-cigarettes, a proven smoking cessation product, Needham’s policy simply encouraged young smokers to stick to illicit but more readily available cigarettes.
We’ve already witnessed the potential of some police officers enforcing tobacco laws and it is not pretty. We’ve seen teens beaten and college students tackled and arrested over tobacco use and this law will only make it worse. An 18-year-old’s poor decision to pick up a tobacco habit will now not only be bad for their health, but it could lead to them processing into the system as criminals.
By the state’s logic, or, rather, lack thereof, a three year increase for purchasing tobacco is somehow going to solve a problem of underage tobacco use. But they are poorly mistaken. By this logic, why don’t we just raise the age of smoking to 100 and stop everyone from doing it? Or hell, why don’t we just make tobacco illegal? We’ve seen how successful the drug war has been, right? Let’s just add tobacco to the list of schedule 1 drugs. After all, a law is a law is a law and brutally enforcing it through the barrel of a gun has worked wonders for our freedom.
The bottom line here is that the state thinks it can play the role of your parent. Despite the state claiming you are an adult at 18 and must start paying taxes, can get married, sign for loans, move out on your own, or die for your country, you better not touch tobacco until “adulthood stage two” or this land of the free will take your money and/or your freedom, and possibly even your life.
About the Author
Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.