Smoke ’em if you got ’em, unless you’re under 21 in NJ
Beginning in November, the age to purchase cigarettes in New Jersey will jump from 19 to 21 years old. Another move by Gov. Chris Christie to desperately try to shape a legacy which is almost certain to be about a bridge and a beach.
He discussed the reasoning behind the move in terms of public health and older, smarter young people would likely not make a decision to smoke. What world does Christie live in? The 20-somethings who are struggling to make ends meet in the increasingly affordable Garden State will just go somewhere else to buy their smokes. Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware are simply not that far away.
Who speaks for the small retailers in New Jersey? Certainly not Gov. Christie, who has done his best to drive more people out of New Jersey with every tax, fee and borrowed dollar. To be clear, I'm not a smoker. I was a smoker for many years in college and in the Marine Corps, then I made a conscious decision to stop and was able to do it cold turkey.
Many people can't and look for help. But for those adults who are working hard and serving our nation, why would we drive people to purchase a legal product from stores outside of NJ? Why would we push young people away? Hurt small business? Create a stigma for those that smoke?This governor has talked about the stigma of drug abuse. Saying repeatedly it's a disease not a choice. Seems he treats smokers in a more harsh manner than drug addicts...and for what? Will there be 19-year-olds who suddenly quit smoking because there's a new law? How'd that work out in the war on drugs? Why punish small biz, veterans and hard working residents? Seems this governor will stop at nothing to satisfy his own personal agenda.
I was reminded on the air of the picture I saw on 9/11 with several members of the FDNY smoking on a public bus. These brave men were being shuttled back and forth to the pile to help in the rescue turned recovery effort to pull the remains of their fallen comrades out of the rubble. Seems the last thing on anyone's mind is whether they were smoking in public.
It struck me at several levels. First, we must have solved all the other problems in Jersey of the Legislature and the governor have nothing left to do but lecture adults on the dangers of smoking and then put legislation behind it. It also occurred to me that we're going about the raising and training of young people all wrong. We should be teaching coping skills and learning to enjoy life in moderation. It's one thing for an insurance company to raise your premiums because you take on a known risk of inhaling tobacco. It's quite another for the government to mandate a personal behavior for political points.
During the course of the conversation I naturally pivoted to alcohol. This is an area which I believe the lack of understanding and training about an appreciation of adult beverages has hurt young people. Many young people binge the minute they are out of their parents orbit and do real damage. Some have died. Dealing with alcohol and teaching moderation won;t solve every problem, but enabling young people to stand up and make good decisions without government mandates will sure go a long way. More to come on this for sure.
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