The town of South Windsor is considering raising the minimum age required to purchase tobacco.
Soon 21 may be the age you’ve got to be if you want to smoke anything from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
As the town begins debate about this proposal, there are mixed feelings on the issue.
The mayor, who also happens to be a lung doctor, says limiting access to cigarettes will stop more young people from smoking. A town council member who lost a loved one to tobacco use says the plan isn’t a good one.
“We have a collective responsibility to use our knowledge and our understanding to make policies that are going to help people live longer and healthier,” said South Windsor Mayor Dr. Saud Anwar.
The mayor is pushing the proposal to raise the age required to buy tobacco, citing the rise in Connecticut high schoolers who now spoke e-cigarettes, forming nicotine addictions earlier.
“Science is saying that these kids are going to die. One third of them will have smoking-related death if they start at an early age. So we have a responsibility to try and reduce that consumption,” Anwar said.
But town councilor Lisa Maneeley said the proposal represents classic government overreach in the lives of legal adults.
“Eighteen-year-olds are not children, and they’re allowed to make their own decisions,” Maneeley, a Republican, argued.
Maneeley may seem like an unlikely opponent on this issue. Her father died when she was a teen, before he turned 40, from lung cancer caused by a smoking habit he picked up when he was about 14.
“I don’t approve of tobacco. I don’t approve of vaping. But I don’t believe a town has the right to infringe their views on somebody else,” Maneeley said.
The council will put the question to the public for feedback when it offers up an ordinance expected early next year.
Any potential age increase would require a vote of support by the council.
The mayor expects this proposal to be written into an ordinance for public discussion sometime next month. A vote could come at the end of January or beginning of February.