An ordinance that would have banned the sale of tobacco products and e cigarettes to adults 18 – 21 was unanimously rejected by the Gardner City Council March 21.
Tobacco 21 made a presentation to the council. Their mission is to raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, and proponents have met with municipalities statewide.
Most recently, Olathe banned the purchase of tobacco products for those under 21.
Proponents, including some area residents, testified regarding the physical effects of tobacco use as well as information that young adults lack of judgment regarding long term usage of tobacco.
However, the ban was rejected 5 -0 by council members, several of who cited individual rights.
One councilmember, in response to a  19 year old young adult’s request to grandfather those under 21 who would no longer be allowed to purchase tobacco products if the Gardner ordinance passed, said he found it absurd that someone would ask him to return their rights.
We agree.
There is no doubt that smoking is a health hazard.
There is no doubt that – some – youth have always found an allure to smoking;
It’s cool.
It’s rebellious.
And some consider it almost like an adult right of passage.
None of those are good reasons to smoke.
However, historically bans don’t work.
Think prohibition.
Or the failed “War on Drugs.”
The state passed a semi-ban on cold medication, but there is still a methamphetamine epidemic.
Opiates such as heroin are banned, but there is a rising epidemic of black market purchase, prescription overkill and “pain clinics” that circumvent the ban for the legal use of substances such as methadone and subutext.
Marijuania is banned, but it’s readily available.
Rather than banning the purchase of tobacco, we’d rather see more money targeted at education for young adults.
We applaud the Tobacco 21 organization for their efforts, and the city council for listening to another point of view, but we also support individual rights.
Education – and subsequent peer pressure – can be much more effective than a ban.