Common sense goes up in smoke

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The State Senate is fine with legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana for recreational use by adults ages 21 and older, having voted for the second time in two years to do just that.
But when it came to a proposal for raising the minimum age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, State Senate members instead offered arguments about imposing restrictions on personal behavior and military members being able to smoke at age 18. The proposal was defeated Tuesday by a 16-13 vote.
It confounds logic that the same legislative body, less than a week after opening a potential Pandora's Box full of unintended consequences on legalized marijuana, considered decades of conclusive medical evidence on the dangers of smoking and decided 18, 19 and 20-year-olds ought to have continued access to cigarettes and other tobacco products.
It makes you wonder what they're smoking in the State Senate these days.
Tobacco, while legal, is a proven killer that costs this country billions of dollars in health care costs annually. That's before we address the human cost paid by users and their loved ones. It's not safe in any form. We certainly do not want our kids messing around with it.
At some point, those kids become adults who can make their own choices about their health and well-being. That's understood.
But years ago, we made a decision about 18-to-20 year olds and their access to another dangerous, but legal, substance.
In the 1980s, states such as Vermont decided that although young adults could vote and fight for their country at 18, they should wait until they're 21 before they can legally drink alcohol. That decision was made because the results of letting 18-20 year olds drink legally were a disaster.
We very much doubt there's any interest in the State Senate for lowering the drinking age back to 18.
Yet, lawmakers are somehow OK with letting 18, 19 and 20 year olds purchase a highly addictive product that causes serious illness and death when used as intended — but telling those same people they have to wait until they're 21 to use marijuana, if legalization ever takes hold in this state.
You don't have to be stoned to be confused by that logic.
And where do younger kids get their hands on cigarettes? From their older friends.
The jury is still out on marijuana legalization. There are arguments for and against that are worth careful consideration.
But we know beyond a shadow of doubt that tobacco is dangerous and unhealthy.


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