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Outlawing smoking for the young is a social responsibility

Collince Adienge |  30 July 2017


When limitations are placed on an individual’s liberty some people will call it bureaucracy or tyranny; others will say that they have been denied an opportunity to make decisions. The common sense middle position is typically that freedoms should be protected if they do not infringe on other peoples’ rights. 

xxxxxSometimes common sense is not as common as we always think, however. Allowing events to unfold naturally, without intervention, can often result in the worst outcome. That is why it is prudent for the Australian government to come up with the noble idea of controlling smoking spree by lifting the age limits for 21 years.

Smoking costs the economy about $4 billion per year, money that could be channeled to other sectors of the economy for development purposes. Currently, this is considered an opportunity cost.

It has been found by research done by the Institute of Medicine that the raising of the legal age to 21 reduces the prevalence of the teenage smoking by 12 percent. They also found that the effect of tobacco is more intense on teenagers between the ages between 15 years to 17 years. By implementing regulation to control the purchase and usage of smoke under the age of 21 years, the country will stand a chance of becoming more labor and capital abundant.

Some scholars have criticized the current debate by saying that it will not be in line with culture to introduce a new law forbidding something before the age of 21. But we should look at the bigger picture of the impact the smoking splurge brings to the society. Young people are more prone to become addicted to nicotine, and to become heavy smokers they reach adult age. They also tend to find it harder to quit.

Strictly enforcing a law on the sale of tobacco to minors or people younger than 21 years would be a milestone. It would reduce the adverse effects of nicotine addiction on users and non-users.

There is a fear that adults can sabotage the effectiveness of any regulation by buying cigarettes for minors, but there is still likely to be a significant reduction in the effects that nicotine has on the economy. This has been evident in countries like the US, where the cigarettes sales have been reduced by 2 per cent.

Tobacco smoking can lead to the development of diseases that affect the productivity of young people. Rrestricting its use will save young people from being exposed to some diseases which affect their central nervous systems, respiratory systems, cardiovascular systems, integumentary system, digestive system and their sexual and reproductive system.


"It is the responsibility of government institutions, non-governmental organizations—indeed, the entire society—to take the time to educate youth about the dangers of smoking."


Indirectly, this will save the community from other ills, like domestic violence. It will also protect families. There are massive expenditures for the Australian community because of the effects of nicotine on elderly smokers.

It is the responsibility of government institutions, non-governmental organizations—indeed, the entire society—to take the time to educate youth about the dangers of smoking; to prepare teenagers and youths psychologically.

This will result in sounder judgments and decisions. It will also aid in impulse control and resisting peer pressure. It is our responsibility to support the bill so as to save lives and strengthen our future generations.

The impact of tobacco is unmistakeable and immediate steps should to be taken to improve the welfare of the whole society.


Megan GrahamCollince Adienge is a freelance writer and a graduate in finance, economics and linguistics.


Collince Adienge


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Submitted comments

A number of laws have been introduced concerning tobacco smoking which have benefitted society in Australia. It's still a serious health issue though for many people. Young people under 21 years of age are often subject to intense peer pressure and wear rebelliousness as a badge of honour so there are significant obstacles to overcome when introducing a law restricting their freedom of choice. Older people have a particular responsibility here to set the good example.

Pam 31 July 2017

As a smoker, I agree.

Peter Goers 31 July 2017

"Indirectly, this will save the community from other ills, like domestic violence." Please explain... A stretch to link smoking to domestic violence. "Smoking costs the economy about $4 billion per year, money that could be channeled to other sectors of the economy for development purposes. Currently, this is considered an opportunity cost." Since the government reaps 8 billion dollars a year in taxes, encouraging smoking actually makes financial sense.

Paul 31 July 2017

Very sensible article. Except I would make the age of consent for smoking more like 24 or 25 when the human brain reaches maturity for drug effects to nicotine. Before then it is highly dangerous and a cause of anxiety and depression: indeed THE major cause of mental illness in the 20-30 age group which is an amazing fact largely unknown or ignored. It will also protect babies from the growth retarding effects of smoking from which they never recover: smaller, less intelligent and more likely to get asthma and COPD later on! This is a huge social impact.

Eugene 31 July 2017

Young people need help, but the way they need it most is to give them a Vision that will inspire them to seek a healthy development of their noblest and best qualities, their minds and their hearts. Tobacco producers and profiteers have consistently sought to undermine this, by using lies, and predatory tricks and should be taxed heavily to restore some sort of retribution for the evil they do. A Name and Shame Campaign also might be worth trying.

Robert Liddy 31 July 2017

Don't agree; by 18 people can vote and drive. If smoking is legal for older adults, it should be legal for those 18 years old. Same with alcohol. And I'm an ex-smoker, and hate it.

Penelope 03 August 2017

A touchingly idealistic article which sadly is unlikely to be implementable in our current society. There are already very considerable efforts being made to curb smoking; perhaps the question is rather along the lines of why they are not more effective.

Dr Neil Buchanan 04 August 2017

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