Last week, the Maine Legislature voted to bar all people under the age of 21 from buying tobacco products, a proposal that this newspaper supported in a July 27 editorial (“Our View: Maine lawmakers should override vetoes of hand-held device ban, higher age for tobacco sales”). Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on the danger of smoking, this is an arbitrary overreach of government and a slap in the face of young adults in Maine.

Tobacco products, especially cigarettes, are dangerous. Time and time again, they have been proven to cause major health complications, many of which can lead to death. This is not an argument against studies that show tobacco products are dangerous — they are. Rather, this is an argument against these new laws that restrict the liberties of young adults.

Being 18 in America is strange. Although one is given massive new responsibilities, one isn’t given all the full privileges of adulthood. Within a month of becoming a legal adult, men are obligated to register for the Selective Service, a directory of those who are eligible to be drafted in the event of a war.

Eighteen-year-olds are also expected to serve on a jury if called upon, are held to harsher sentences when being charged for a crime and are allowed to fight and possibly die in the U.S. military. Regardless of these new responsibilities, however, people under the age of 21 aren’t seen as adult enough to drink or, in Maine, smoke.

These double standards are ridiculous. Yes, smoking is dangerous, but also is being a soldier, driving, working in dangerous environments and a whole host of other situations that happen over the course of a person’s life. When someone becomes an adult, they should be given the full range of liberties an adult in Maine has, rather than being restrained by arbitrary age restrictions.

Jamie Phillips is a resident of Portland.

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