You Can Go to War but You Can’t Have a Smoke

United States Congress is getting ready to ban tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21 as part of a year-end spending deal

In its never-ending habit of trying to regulate any aspect of American life it can get its mitts on, the United States Congress is now set to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

The legislation is part of a year-end spending deal and has bipartisan support, according to The Hill and other outlets.

While broader efforts to regulate tobacco by banning certain flavors and e-cigarettes have stalled at the federal level, “lawmakers believe raising the tobacco purchasing age will make a difference,” that outlet also reported.

The tobacco industry also is backing the measure to ward off even harsher regulation in the future.

At present the measure, H.R. 2339, has no military exemption.

But as the tobacco industry will likely discover, appeasing the regulators now will only whet their appetite for more restrictions in the future.

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While no one claims smoking is good for our health, the same people who argue that people’s bodies are their own and the government can have no say in personal decisions regarding that inviolate space are many of the same bluestocking busybodies who support this legislation.

So their logic is this: You can kill a fully formed and developed baby up to the moment of birth — but the purchase of a cigarette is forbidden by a person who is 18 years of age.

The tobacco restriction for the U.S. Armed Forces is a bad joke.

My experience in this matter is long and regular. As a serving soldier in Europe and the states in the early 1980s, I along with many fellow service members enjoyed tobacco. My particular affinity is for cigars, not cigarettes. Currently, as a part-time vocation, I work some weekends at a local cigar shop — and as the shop is in Annapolis, Maryland, home to the U.S. Naval Academy, many customers are midshipmen. Many of them are 18 to 21 years of age.

What this legislation is telling them, and telling veterans like me who served during some of the hottest times in the Cold War, is that a person may be mature and responsible enough to defend the country and possibly even lose his or her life in the service of the nation at 18 years of age.

Yet the government reserves the right to reverse that judgment completely on one’s maturity when it suits the public-relations needs of politicians and the health despot lobby.

This is but one more example of how the political class and their hangers-on assume they know what’s best for the rest of America.

President Donald Trump could veto this legislation. But with his current focus diverted and with the measure getting support from both sides of the aisle, that is not the likely outcome.

Thus one more small right, not to mention the effect on small business owners — such as the man who owns the cigar shop where I work — is taken away from the American people by government.

It may not seem like much — and to some it might look like a way of dealing with a health calamity.

To others such as this analyst, it reeks strongly of the same nanny state mentality present during the prohibition of alcohol sales in the 1920s (and we all know how well that worked out).

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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