Maybe it's time to re-examine the definition of adult.
Traditionally anyone aged 18 years and older is considered adult—emotionally and psychologically mature enough to make decisions regarding their own welfare.
Want to see a movie with curse words and naked bodies? Better be 18. Care to vote for the person who best represents your young values and priorities? No problem, as long as you’re 18. Got a hankering to join the military and kill or be killed? Great, just make sure to sign on the dotted line after your 18th birthday. Same requirements apply for signing a contract, opening a bank account, securing a credit card or going to jail rather than juvenile hall and working for a living. 18, 18, 18, 18, 18.
There was a time when the only thing you couldn’t do legally at that age was enjoy a cocktail or two. For some magical reason 21 was the arbitrary age that marked a person’s ability to legally consume alcohol.
But in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the rest of the city council recently signed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. (Of course, you can still legally smoke cigarettes if you’re 18, you’ll just have to steal them from a parent or stranger.)
Supporters of the ordinance contend that making it harder to buy cigarettes will prevent young adults from becoming addicted to cigarettes at a younger age.
Concerns for health and well being were also the arguments for Bloomberg’s effort to outlaw the sale of jumbo sized soft drinks in the Big Apple. That push to watch waistlines and blood sugar levels ultimately failed.
New York isn’t the first big city that has raised age requirements for buying a pack of smokes. And it won’t be the last.
As smoking loses it’s appeal and popularity more legislators will no doubt attach themselves to a seemingly slam dunk cause.
Thankfully Chula Vista and National City haven’t hopped aboard that “We-know-what’s -best-for-your-health” bandwagon. They’ve kept their focus on recharging economies and keeping streets well lit and safe. They have wisely allowed adults to make their own decisions about their lifestyles and purchasing choices.
But that brings us back to the definition of adults. When you’re 18 you’re thought be old enough to make your own decisions: How late you’ll stay up, what you’ll put into your body and how you’ll spend your money are just a few examples of the life-changing choices people can make when they are legal.
Yet there are plenty of people who are older than 18 who consistently make poor decisions, buying cigarettes and smoking may be one of them. But at least it’s their adult decision to make. For now anyway.