We’ve always believed that the rule limiting state lawmakers to introducing just five bills is misguided because it tips the balance of power in favor of the executive branch and needlessly hampers the ability of the General Assembly to solve problems. But a bipartisan proposal to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 has us wondering whether some legislators should be allowed to introduce any bills at all.
The Denver Post reported Tuesday that a handful of Democrats and Republicans cooked up the harebrained scheme, which sounds like something more suited to Michael Bloomberg’s New York than freedom-loving Colorado.
According to the Post writeup, one backer of the legislation, Sen. Steve King (R-Grand Junction), is justifying the plan to treat some of Colorado’s adults like children in the name of “consistency.”
“Drinking is 21. Marijuana is 21. Gambling is 21. We’re just making tobacco 21 also. It’s a consistency across those laws,” King told the paper.
Jodi Radke, a spokesman for the condescending anti-tobacco lobby, went even further — telling the Grand Junction Sentinel, “Kids of that age, and they are kids, their brains aren’t fully developed yet, so they become much more addicted to tobacco than adults.”
We’ll say this: At least the gang behind this foolish proposal are open about their belief that people under 21 are totally incapable of making rational and informed decisions.
We think they are wrong, but we give Steve, Jodi and their merry band of big-government paternalists props for being honest.
As long as we’re talking “consistency,” we wonder if the group will also propose bumping up the driving age to 21 – particularly given that the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S. isn’t tobacco, it is motor vehicle crashes.
Better yet, perhaps they could introduce resolutions asking Congress to push the voting age back to 21 (people whose brains “aren’t developed” enough to handle a can of Skoal certainly can’t be trusted to vote politicians like Sen. King into office), or to exempt those under 21 from the military draft (the logic of sending someone too immature to buy a pack of Marlboro’s to a far flung battlefield on the other side of the world seems a bit — well — inconsistent).
Give us a break.
This legislation is proof that no one political party has the market cornered on stupid — and that there will never be a shortage of politicians on either side of the ideological divide looking to take decisions away from individuals and put them in the hands of government.
We hope the legislature will stamp out this dumb idea — and that lawmakers stop wasting public time and money trying to micromanage the daily lifestyle choices of their fellow grown-ups.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of this editorial erroneously identified Sen. Jeanne Nicholson as a sponsor of this legislation