California moves to raise smoking age to 21

Which won’t, of course, be the last step as prohibitionists work out the implications of what they call a “tobacco-free” America. But it does at least raise a slogan-atic question: Old enough to fight, old enough to vote, why not old enough to drink and smoke too? [Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, who also reminds us that for all the nostalgic talk of Reagan and individual liberty, Reagan was the one who signed the bill (passed by a GOP Senate) arm-twisting states into putting the drinking age up to 21]


  • Old enough to fight, old enough to drink is easily fixed. Anyone with a valid Military ID can drink. If you choose not to serve in the Military, too bad, you can wait.

  • What actual constitutional limitations exist that would prevent government’s raising the age permitting any act not expressly addressed in the current constitution to any age government chooses?

    Is minimum age for an extra-constitutional activity a constitutional “back door” that prohibitionists of every stripe can exploit, if they can find majority support among legislators or voters (but short of sufficient support for a constitutional amendment)?

    Extreme examples to illustrate the point:
    Age for smoking or drinking: 100 years.
    Age of consent for sexual activity: 75 years.
    Age for going outside the house without direct parental supervision: 50 years.

    I don’t recall that common sense is a constitutional argument that courts recognize. And “reasonable” means whatever 5 judges say it means.

    • 10A.

      Congress only has power over the minimum age to join the army. Everything else is well with in the traditional sphere of the states authority.

      Even the drinking age at 21 was not directly set by Congress. They had to blackmail the individual states into doing it one at a time.

  • I assume that the “good smoke” of medical marihuana won’t be covered, so a slogan for those who oppose the measure could be “Old enough to toke, old enough to smoke.”