I was a teenage smoker.Now, are you following along with this? Brian Chasnoff started smoking at age 16. He quit smoking in 2001, five years later. This means he started smoking in 1996. Guess who else was 16 in 1996? Yours truly, which means I can tell you this without any hesitation: the legal age for buying cigarettes back then was 18.
The first nauseating drag was inhaled at 16 to impress a girl at a high school party. And although this cigarette did not spark romance, I succeeded in becoming addicted to cigarettes. Five years later, as a senior at Tulane University, I'd increased my consumption of tobacco to two packs a day...
But for reasons both moral and fiscal, Senate Bill 313 deserves support...
“Every year, we complain, and rightfully so, Texans complain that our Medicaid budget is continuing to grow and increase and we can never get our arms around it,” Uresti says. “Well, here's one way we can get our arms around it, and that's by raising the age limit for smoking.”
Uresti's bill would sacrifice about $20 million in annual state revenue for the same reason it would save lives: The new age limit would prevent about a third of young adults from smoking who otherwise would likely become addicted.
On the off chance any of my readers are as dense as Chasnoff, I'll spell it out for you: When he started smoking, he was two years younger than the legal age for buying cigarettes.
And yet he somehow thinks that raising the legal age for buying cigarettes is going to magically stop people from illegally smoking, even though it didn't stop him. (Why yes, he's in favor of stricter gun control laws. But you probably guessed that already, eh?)
Look, I'm not in favor of smoking. I think smokers, at least those my age and younger who had a steady diet of anti-smoking messages in school, some of them very graphic, are dumb. Smoking is my nanny-state thing; I was happy when City Council passed an anti-indoors-smoking ordinance, because it meant I could go to restaurants and breathe without getting sick.
Something else I'm not in favor of, though, is laws that won't make a lick of difference. Though I have never even considered smoking, I am well aware of the fact that people still do it and are gonna keep on doing it. And a significant portion of those who start are going to be teenagers who are well under the legal age for smoking. Make it more illegaler! just isn't an intelligent idea, no matter what the topic of legislation may be.