Commentary: ‘Political games’ being played with smoking age

Imagine being an outlaw in the eyes of the government because you had to purchase cigarettes or vape oil for your 20-year-old son or daughter who was no longer allowed to legally purchase them.

With the proposed bill to raise the smoking and vaping age to 21, SB25, the Delaware General Assembly will create a new class of people who will be forced to participate in criminality and operate outside the law to access tobacco or vape products.

One reason given for the proposed law is that it will reduce underage access provided by 18- to 20-year-olds who purchase for young teens. The question is, why should law-abiding 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds have their rights denied because an irresponsible 18-year-old buys cigarettes for underagers? Is mass punishing young adults a wise act of legislation? Shouldn’t the government focus on prosecuting criminals, not curtailing the rights of the law abiding?

This heavy-handed prohibition sends a bad message to young adults that they are not full members of our society. That resentment nurtures a culture of contempt for government and law enforcement that is bad enough as it is.

Under the new statute, those aged 18 to 20 will be able to buy a lottery ticket, be drafted to serve in the military, vote in all elections, get married, enter into contracts, vote in a jury to condemn someone to life imprisonment, take out a mortgage, go hundreds of thousands into student debt, be held criminally liable as an adult, but not smoke or vape.

It’s the arrogance of power that gives those entangled with government the belief that they have the authority to dictate to a segment of our society how to live their lives “for their own good.” Politicians know they have little to fear at the ballot box from politically inactive 18- to 20-year-olds, and believe they can score some easy credit with voters in the “nanny state”, “won’t somebody think of the children?” crowd with this maneuver. Don’t let them play political games with people’s rights.

The government shouldn’t be treating adults like children. It’s a violation of the rights of young adults, confuses the role of government from being the guarantor of our rights to unwanted super-parent, and breeds disrespect for the law among our youth and patriots of all ages who detest arbitrary government overreaches.

Our Constitution of laws is founded in preserving the natural rights of people against arbitrary interference. This anti-constitutional legislation has already passed in the Senate. Please stand up for the rights of young Delawareans and contact your representative in the Delaware House immediately, urging them to vote No on SB25.

Sam Chick is a resident of Dover and owner of Puffster smoke and vape shop in Dover.

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