Tobacco’s age restriction is ethically justified
This semester, some college students in New York City discovered that they could no longer purchase a pack of cigarettes. In May, a law went into effect that made it illegal for retailers in New York City to sell tobacco products—including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco—to people under the age of 21. The law also applies to electronic cigarettes.
“Tobacco 21” laws, as they are known, are relatively new, and have been enacted in only a few jurisdictions during the last decade: A number of small communities including several counties in Massachusetts and one county in Hawaii have adopted such restrictions. Even more have passed laws that will go into effect in the near future. And on a wider scale, these laws may be catching on. At least three states have considered enacting state-wide restrictions.
Will “Tobacco 21” laws reduce smoking? And if so, do their benefits outweigh any ethical problems they may raise? The answer to both questions is yes.