Green River Star -

Our view: Changes raise inconvenient questions


January 8, 2020

While a recent change in federal regulation has risen the age required to buy tobacco and electronic vaping products to 21, the change also raises some questions about when a person can make adult choices.

The regulation change was heralded as a means to help protect young adults from addiction to vaping products.

While we can agree that the regulation will have that outcome with some people, it also means 18-year-olds have an adult choice taken from them.

Someone who is 18 years old can legally made decisions such as determining if they want a tattoo or another form of body modification without parental consent.

They can cast a ballot in local, state and federal elections to help determine the course they want to see their government take. They can decide to join the armed forces, fight and possibly die in service to the United States.

They can also possibly be drafted into the armed services should the government determine a need for it.

Yet, they’re unable to decide if they want to use a tobacco or vaping product. Alcohol has a similar restriction to it, yet there is a wide gulf in using both products responsibility.

While the irresponsible consumption of alcohol can lead to possible injury or death in many circumstances, tobacco use or vaping doesn’t have those extreme outcomes associated with its use. Yes, addiction is a concern, but someone vaping irresponsibly isn’t going to experience the sudden physical impairment alcohol can bring about.

What this regulation change says is this: young people, you are technically adults, but you can’t be trusted to make this decision just yet.

If this is the case, perhaps other rights granted to adults at age 18 need to be called into debate, such as the ability for a young adult to put themselves in debt for decades through student loans. Longterm financial obligations can be detrimental to a person, just as smoking and vaping can have longterm health consequences. Maybe it’s time to for us to debate and re-examine what exactly an 18-year-old should be responsible for.


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