Sometimes I come across anti-smoking campaigns yet again, with all the heartbreaking facts and gruesome imagery associated with the deadly habit, and I ask myself yet again:
Why isn’t smoking banned once and for all?
We have known for decades that smoking kills. One hundred million people have died from it in the 20th century, mostly from high-income countries. One billion people could die from it in this century, most in low-to-middle income countries. (source).
Yet smoking is still allowed. Health Ministries of many countries around the world may make it difficult to smoke in more and more public spaces, increase the taxes and therefore the prices of cigarettes, and generally frown upon the habit. But essentially it is still allowed.
We think we know why. Because it’s a drug to which millions of people, young and old, are addicted to, and it would be cruel and unrealistic to suddenly ban it outright.
Well, excuse me for being cynical, but I think the main reason is because governments find tobacco taxes too lucrative to give up.
Let’s pretend we live in an ideal world (a parallel universe, perhaps) where governments are willing to give up the massive amounts of money they get from tobacco taxes, money that basically comes from allowing millions of their citizens to continue harming themselves and their loved ones around them.
The simple idea is just to make the ban gradual. Whatever the legal age for smoking is in your country, raise the age by one year, every year. And just keep going until it’s finally eradicated.
This way, the current addicts who are above the legal age do not suffer from having their nicotine drug taken away from them. As the people who are below the legal age grow older and increase in population, the nation becomes steadily more and more smoker-free.
I believe smokers themselves will support this method if implemented. I truly believe in my heart that even the most hardcore nicotine addicts who laugh and shrug off the health risks, privately wish they had never started the habit, and would love for their children and grandchildren to be properly protected from ever becoming slaves to the drug as well.
I’m so happy to discover literally just minutes ago while researching for this post, that my country Singapore has been in the midst of raising the legal age of 18 to 21, gradually over 3 years. It started this on 1st January 2019 when the legal age was raised to 19, then to 20 on 1st January 2020, then it will be raised to 21 on 1st January 2021.
My idea is to just keep raising the legal age by one year, every year. Don’t stop at 21. Just keep on going until it’s eradicated.
Just imagine: with the way time flies, in only 10 short years, it would only be 30-year-olds and older who can smoke. The thought of that is just, wow, surreal.
And, yes, it would only be in 2080 that only 80-year-olds and older can sneak in a puff like naughty teenagers, feigning a guilty expression when caught. And if there are still centenarians like there are surprisingly hundreds of thousands around today, well, the youths and children of today might have to look beyond 2100 to witness a truly tobacco smoke-free world.
But time is going to pass, anyway, and like I said, time flies. So, implement the idea and keep at it. Whatever the legal age for smokers in your country, raise it by one year every year, and just keep at it. Don’t stop.
Please help to share and spread this post if you like the idea. Who knows, some activist or government official or some other concerned regular person might end up reading it, and triggers it being proposed in parliament somewhere. I know I said ‘ideal world in a parallel universe‘, but sometimes parallel universes collide! 🙂
- Vital Signs: Why governments get addicted to smoking, gambling and other vices – The Conversation (Australia) – 12 April 2019
- Legal age for smoking to be raised to 21 ‘progressively’ over 3 years – Today Online (Singapore) – 7 November 2017
- Why do we still permit tobacco use? – Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy – Autumn 2015
- Spinning a new tobacco industry: How Big Tobacco is trying to sell a do-gooder image and what Americans think about it. – Truth Initiative (U.S.A) – 20 December 2019
- Truth Initiative – Inspiring lives free from smoking, vaping and nicotine (U.S.A)
Dear Halim, thanks for bringing this topic up. This discussion is much needed. The idea of gradually increasing smoking age is a brilliant one. Great write up, look forward to more such reads in the coming days.
Thank you so much, Trishikh! For reading and your kind words. They warm my heart. Cheers to you.
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A good idea however, when I was growing up in a low socio economic area children as young as eight would be smoking. In addition to raising the age, somehow governments need to get the, smoking kills, message to all ages.
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Thanks, Robert. Yes, that’s true. When I hear about legal age limits like 16, 18, etc, I also think, “hmmm, not uncommon to start younger than that.” I agree that governments still have to reach out to them, like in schools to still drill into them about the dangers, and cannot just consider job done with ban below legal age.
Also, get help to kids already addicted (say, the ones caught or if they themselves come forward to ask for help) and with actual help not just counselling, like give them patches or gum. The nicotine chewing gum worked well for me and I finally managed to quit in 2009 after trying and failing so many times previously. But many families might not be able to afford aids like that, so help with that might be useful.