Saturday, June 11, 2022

Raising the age of smoking?

I was just talking about one case of raising age limits, and along comes another - at least, a proposal for one. As reported here, the government's Khan review into eradicating smoking has proposed further raising of the age at which one can buy cigarettes.

The proposal is in fact that the age should rise by one year every year, copying an existing policy in New Zealand (which I posted about last year). I've discussed such a possibility with my students before, but only as a theoretical proposal, so it's interesting to see it taken seriously as an actual policy. Such a policy would mean that those currently old enough to buy cigarettes will continue to be able to do so, while those who are too young will forever remain so.

This proposal may seem somewhat unfair, but it could be justifiable if we think it worse to take freedom away from someone who has it than it is merely to continue withholding it from someone who has never had it. This seems plausible in the smoker case, since many smokers are addicted, and so would face particular burdens if their access to cigarettes were to be withdrawn.

However, it's worth noting that this reasoning doesn't so much focus on those who are currently old enough to smoke, but rather on those who do currently smoke. I see little reason, besides perhaps practicality, why someone who is currently 30 and a non-smoker should retain the freedom to start smoking in future that a current 15 year-old will never have.

There may also be a parallel issue with under-age smokers. Someone might have acquired an addiction, though slightly under the current age. Under current policy, they would soon be old enough to purchase cigarettes legally but, if this proposal is implemented, then they may never be able to satisfy their addiction legally, because they will always be just under the necessary age threshold.

1 comment:

  1. People get addicted to it very quickly and when they get addicted to it then they can't leave it after all they all know the damage smoking has to do to their bodies. Keep as far as you can from smoking because it will destroy your body.