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Young folks decide

A man who joins the U. S. armed forces and puts his life on the line for this nation is capable of deciding whether to purchase tobacco products.

As is a woman.

The dangers of tobacco on a person’s health is well documented. It’s evident that alcohol and other substances ingested also detrimentally affect health — perhaps even many of the manufactured food items with long lists of ingredients with names few can pronounce. Or read for that matter, the type size is so small.

It’s also documented that a higher legal age — 21 verses 18 — leads to fewer people developing a tobacco habit.

But educating people as to the peril is the appropriate avenue to reduce sales and use. As an example, a recent study shows that the number of overdose deaths declined nationally last year for the first time in three decades. At least in part, that is a result of increased publicity about the previously rising numbers and people’s response to that information.

It’s information that should continue to be provided to address tobacco product sales among young people.

Then, if it’s their choice to use such products, they need to accept responsibility for the consequences.

As the nation has witnessed, young folks can and do understand cause and effect; they join up, get sent into conflicts and they deal with the result.

If they can do that — and they do — then they can decide for themselves whether to buy tobacco products.

The Ketchikan City Council this week voted to encourage state elected leaders to increase the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21. The same question is before the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly; its answer is expected at a Monday night meeting.

We don’t buy tobacco products; we don’t like being around them, and we don’t think anyone else should be, either. We acknowledge that some young people might not be equipped to make the best decisions for their health. Neither are some people 21 or over — as much over as 50, 60, 70 years and beyond.

But a man of 18, 19 or 20 who volunteers to make decisions in defense of this country should be allowed to make his own choice in regard to the purchase of tobacco. Women, too.