I do not smoke, and I never have. I wish everyone who smokes would stop smoking, and that everyone who does not smoke would never start. I would love to see the tobacco industry collapse because no one is buying their products. But for the government to tell legal adults they cannot consume a legal product is wrong. That is why I am opposed to raising the smoking age from 18 to 21.
The comparison to alcohol is fallacious. Alcohol and tobacco are not equivalent, because alcohol is a mind-altering drug. Tobacco is not. Alcohol slows reaction time, reduces inhibitions and alters judgment. That is why we have laws saying 18 year olds are not permitted to drink because of how the drug affects people. I disagree with the drinking age, but I understand the reasoning behind it. That cannot be applied to tobacco.
It is absurd to tell someone that he is a legal adult, with all of the legal rights and responsibilities that come with being an adult, but cannot smoke a cigarette. If someone is old enough to fight, kill and die in a war, then he is old enough to smoke. It ought to be unthinkable that Republicans, who are supposed to be the party of limited government, would do anything other than reject this nonsense outright.
Why does the Chamber of Commerce care about raising the legal age, anyway? The answer: This is a smoke screen. (Pun intended.) The Chamber wants it to be legal to deny employment to smokers, so by including an increase in the legal smoking age, they can spin this as a public health proposal instead of a business proposal. The problem is that nobody is buying it.
If the Chamber wants to have an honest conversation about employing smokers, then we should have that conversation. This sort of dishonesty, though, is never welcome.