Newberry opts out of county tobacco ordinance


On Monday night, the City of Newberry opted out of Alachua County’s pending Tobacco Minimum Legal Sales Age 21 Ordinance. The ordinance was passed by the Alachua BoCC earlier this year and is slated to be effective countywide October 22nd. Cities were given the choice to opt out, and Newberry’s motion to opt out passed 5-0. 

The portion of the ordinance garnering the most public attention was the age for tobacco sales being raised from 18 to 21. Other parts addressed distance from schools, licensing, and penalties. For me, as a Newberry City Commissioner, this was about freedom and liberty and little to do with the subject matter. 

I knew people would try and chastise me. I knew they would claim I promoted tobacco sales to kids.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and these reactions reveal the accusers’ inability to engage in critical thought. First of all, 18-to-21-year-olds are not kids. They are adults. They are over the age of 18. They can vote, enlist in the military, and sign a contract. They can buy a car, buy a house, even get a credit card. They can and should make their own decisions and learn about consequences for them.  

We need to stop coddling young adults and start preparing them. We should make 18 the age for all consent litmus tests. So long as we treat them like children, they are going to continue to act like children. Parents need to step up and make sure their kids know, in this case, the dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco, before they become adults. That is their job, not government’s obligation. I hope they don’t smoke. Smoking is an absolute killer. 

In the end, the bigger-picture solution is less government and more personal responsibility. When government increases, freedom and liberty decrease. I, for one, don’t think the government needs to be involved in personal decisions to this degree. Government is not a tool for one person or elected commission to impose their will on other citizens. Government was built to preserve rights, not dole them out, and, in part, this is why we are a republic and not a democracy. Once rights are given up, incrementally or wholesale, they are rarely returned. We should always be jealous guardians of our freedoms and liberty across the board.

Tim Marden is a Newberry City Commissioner.

Photo credit: http://vaping360.com/

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