Let’s set the record straight, nobody in their right mind thinks tobacco smoking is a good idea. So when the Naperville city council approved legislation to increase the age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, it was another one of those feel-good ordinances resulting in more socially acceptable non-productive actions.
The vote in favor of the ordinance was six to three, with council members Kevin Coyne, Kevin Gallaher, and Paul Hinterlong, voting against it. None of the three are in favor of smoking at any age, but all three have reservations about government stepping in again to regulate our lives. Additionally councilman John Krummen said that raising the age to purchase would only cause 18 to 21 year-olds to go on a short field trip to a neighboring town to make the purchase.
One 19-year old resident said, “looks like another opportunity for the black market”. Though you may not agree with his sentiment, you have to give him some credit for thinking like a capitalistic entrepreneur. Now before you go ballistic with my comment, there is another capitalistic company, Altria Group Inc. just waiting for the Fed to legalize marijuana. When that happens the plan and machinery are all in place for the business to boom. Even now the anticipation is causing the stock (MO) to increase in value.
Councilman Kevin Coyne said, “It’s naive for us to think we are making a dent in the people under the age of 21 who are smoking”. If raising the age to 21 would make it that easy for people to stop smoking or stop considering smoking, then the ‘problem’ would no longer exist; problem solved. But as Coyne implied, that’s not the case.
The Naperville city councilman who came closest to nailing it was Paul Hinterlong when he said it was a “rights issue” for him. Watch and listen to Hinterlong’s exchange with physician James Ostrenga when he says, “Why stop at 21…Why not a smoke-free Naperville?” :
Great question. Why stop at 21? Katy Leclair the CEO of 360 Youth Services, during the council meeting said, “the adolescent brain continues to develop up to age 25…the pre-frontal cortex, impulse control center, is not fully formed.” Why not make the ordinance for age 25 rather than 21 if the council really wants to make a difference. Apparently the other six council members are not that concerned to make that much of a difference.
Or how about this, if the Naperville city council really wants to make a declarative statement about smoking, simply have the courage to increase the age for purchasing tobacco to 75 with the requirement that the purchaser has to bring both parents in at the time of purchase. That should solve it.