It’s hard to say this in a state whose history is so closely tied to tobacco, but the recent decision by the federal government to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco was a good one.
Some convenience store owners may find that they have a few less sales, but on the plus side, many of those customers who can’t purchase tobacco until they are 21 will likely live longer and frequent that same store for many other things.
Peer pressure is an incredibly powerful thing. Whether it’s a desire to wear the popular brand of clothes or more destructive acts like smoking or taking illegal drugs, the opinions and actions of our friends and acquaintances will play a big role in how we act.
As we get older, peer pressure is less of an influencing factor.
We suspect some of those who would start smoking at the age of 18 may choose not to develop the habit if they are a little older and a little less prone to buckle under the stress of peer pressure.
The law also ensures that new smokers will be older and therefore will have more mature brain development and a greater ability to reason as they consider the pros and cons of picking up a cigarette.
To be sure, as one convenience store operator noted in a story in Saturday’s Courier-Times, there will be some who ignore the law and either find another way to get cigarettes despite being too young or enablers who allow people under the age of 21 to buy tobacco even though it’s against the law.
And, that is the most significant point to consider. It is against the law. We don’t like some of the laws were are forced to live under. Who really wants to drive 20 m.p.h. on South Main Street in Roxboro? But that’s the law. Selling tobacco to customers under the age of 21 is now illegal and that comes with consequences for those who are caught doing so. Buying tobacco under the age of 21 is also now against the law. One has to wonder if it’s really worth making that one sale or having that cigarette to risk those consequences.
But the law is a significant victory for public health and it was the right thing to do..