Tobacco: Bill raising age to 21 should be enacted

State Sen. Tom Takubo thinks one reason his proposal to increase the age at which West Virginians can buy tobacco products failed earlier this year is that some lawmakers considered it an infringement upon personal freedom.

Takubo, R-Kanawha, introduced a bill last year to raise the allowable age for tobacco purchases to 21 years. The current limit is 18. Takubo’s bill passed the state Senate but did not get through the House of Delegates.

“The argument that got it shot down in the House … is there’s this belief of personal freedom and beliefs that you can fight for the country at age 18, (so) you should be able to smoke,” Takubo told MetroNews.

There are any number of health and safety laws that pertain to people over 18 years of age. One example is vehicle safety belt requirements. They apply to everyone.

The fact is that if people do not begin using tobacco products before they turn 21, they are unlikely to ever take up the habit.

Takubo plans to introduce his bill again when the Legislature holds its annual regular session early next year. We hope that in addition to traditional tobacco products, it includes e-cigarettes.

Researchers say many juveniles use e-cigarettes because they view them as safe alternatives to smoking. That is debatable, but they also are a path to nicotine addiction.

Keeping tobacco and “vaping” products out of the hands of younger West Virginians is a worthy goal. Takubo’s bill should be enacted.


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