Mitch McConnell Saves America by Raising the Age to Buy Cigarettes
Western civilization is under siege in America. Persecution of conservatives threatens their livelihoods and safety. Freedom of speech is under threat. The national debt is soaring to unbelievable levels.
But Mitch McConnell has stepped forward to rescue us from the truly important crisis in America: twenty-year-old men and women buying tobacco products. In a nation where half the states allow twelve-year old girls to consent to abortions, and every eighteen-year-old can vote, he wants to ban twenty-year-old factory workers from enjoying a cigar.
The Senate majority leader wants to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products to twenty-one. Since he does not advocate a ban on tobacco sales, he is not trying to eliminate tobacco use. He obviously feels that a person under the age of twenty-one is not mature enough to be capable of making an informed and rational decision about using tobacco.
In half the American states, a twelve-year-old girl can legally decide to get an abortion. She does not need her parents’ permission. She is held to be mature enough to make that decision, but McConnell believes that we can’t let her buy a cigarette. Her eighteen-year-old brother can join the Army, be issued an automatic weapon, and be expected to make split-second decisions, in the chaos of battle about whether to kill a human being. But we can’t let him buy a cigarette. In every state, eighteen-year-old men and women vote and elect the most powerful leaders in the world, leaders expected to make monumental decisions that could affect millions of human beings. But we can’t let them buy a cigarette. Every eighteen-year-old person can legally sign a contract. A twenty-year-old pop star can sign a contract to buy a million-dollar home. But we can’t let her buy a cigarette.
The standard argument used by the advocates of raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products is that we must keep tobacco use out of the high schools. If eighteen-year-olds can buy cigarettes, then seniors in high school can buy cigarettes and pass them on to fifteen-year-old high school students.
If the minimum age to buy cigarettes is raised to twenty-one, older college students can still pass on cigarettes to seventeen-year-old freshmen. Perhaps the minimum age should be raised to twenty-five, as some advocates are now suggesting for alcoholic drinks.
McConnell’s bill exempts men and women in the military. He understands the absurdity of telling a twenty-year-old soldier who has a lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan that he is an immature boy who is not old enough to buy a cigar to celebrate his return to America. I suppose that McConnell’s argument for that exemption would be that the average nineteen-year-old is not mature enough to decide to use tobacco products, but a person who has survived military training had proven himself to be mature enough.
But the military takes any eighteen-year-old high school graduate and expects that person to become a soldier. They do not regard eighteen to twenty-year-old men and women as immature boys and girls and expect most of them to wash out during training. The military is an average cross section of the nation, not an elite force of beings far superior to ordinary Americans. If eighteen to twenty-year old men and women are, on average, too immature to handle decisions about using tobacco products, they should not be allowed to serve in the military.
McConnell’s proposal suggests that the traditional question -- at what age is an average person mature enough to be regarded as an adult -- has been jettisoned in twenty-first century America. No one really cares anymore about logical arguments concerning the proper age of maturity. If the behavior in question is “good” -- like abortion or voting or sex -- lower the age of maturity to absurd levels. Nancy Pelosi wants to lower the voting age to sixteen; Ruth Bader Ginsburg once advocated lowering the age of sexual consent to twelve. If the behavior is “bad” -- smoking or drinking or buying guns -- raise the age of maturity. The idea of general and logical laws has disappeared, another casualty of our irrational age.
“Justin Geoffrey” is the pseudonym of a proud Southerner, a rabid sports fan, a PhD (from a prestigious university), and a conservative for half a century. He blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org.