Shepherdstown reacts to proposed D.C. bill on smoking

The D.C. Council is trying to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Shepherdstown residents, both teenagers and adults, expressed overall disagreement.

“I don’t approve of that bill because I don’t believe it’s right to raise the age. You can join the military and point guns at people but you can’t buy a pack of cigarettes?” said Michael Gerard, a mass communications major at Shepherd.

James Siegrist, a visitor of Shepherdstown, agreed with Gerard in that he believes 18 should be the age. He also said that cigarettes are not like alcohol. By that, Siegrist meant that a person is not going to do something stupid when smoking cigarettes like he or she would if under the influence of alcohol.

“I think they should have stricter tobacco laws because of how bad the pollution is. At the same time, you can’t stop people from smoking cigarettes. It’s part of our culture. You’re an adult under the law but you can’t do whatever you want? I think it’s stupid. People are going to do what they want, regardless of the law,” said Shepherdstown resident Madeline Neubauer.

In 2013, New York City raised the legal age of purchasing tobacco products to 21.

If the D.C. Council’s legislation is approved, the Capital will be added to the list of states, districts and municipalities that have raised the age to legally buy tobacco products to 21.

Over half of Americans consider smoking cigarettes to be a serious health problem to the public, according to a survey done by Pew Research.

“It’s bad for you, I get that, but I don’t think that everything that’s bad for you should be illegal. We might as well outlaw butter,” said 20-year-old Shepherdstown resident Koty Crawford.

“It doesn’t matter that they’re making it 21; if people who have been smoking since they’re 16 now smoke at 18, those two years aren’t going to make a difference,” Crawford said.


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