This I Believe

Robert - Burr Ridge, Illinois
Entered on October 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe

I believe that smoking cigarettes should be legal at the age of sixteen. Now-a-days, by the time a person turns sixteen years old, they have had enough experience and education to know the physical and mental consequences of smoking.

Ever since the fifth grade D.A.R.E. program, I have been aware of cigarettes, what they are and what they do to you. If you don’t know what the D.A.R.E. program is, in fifth grade, an actual police officer would come in and inform the class about drug problems, certain laws, and other information that would apply to us. But besides that, every year that I have taken health class, I was taught and re-taught the dangers of smoking. “Don’t do it,” my teachers told me. “It is bad for your health,” they said. So by the time anyone has turned sixteen, they have been told this over and over again. Maybe not with those exact words, but in some way, shape, or form, everyone has heard it.

I am fifteen years old right now, and only two months from being sixteen. I have heard countless stories of people who had to go to the hospital because of smoking. One of those stories was of a seventy year old woman who was short of breath and had a hard time breathing. She was diagnosed with lung cancer, and still had to have her smoke breaks. I know that this could happen to me. I don’t think it’s at all likely to happen to me, but I know it’s a possibility. I am mature enough to admit that, and I think that almost all sixteen year olds are. Therefore, sixteen year olds should be able to make their own decisions about smoking.

But along with long-term consequences, smoking can come with some short-term consequences too. Some of my friends have gotten grounded or even ticketed for smoking. If it was legal for sixteen year olds, those things would not have happened. And that doesn’t mean if it was legal everyone would start smoking when they turned sixteen. In fact, I think less people would smoke because they wouldn’t think much of it. I mean think about it; chewing gum isn’t illegal, and nobody thinks much about it. If it was illegal, it would be so much more of a bigger deal. It wouldn’t be considered as “cool” to smoke if anyone could do it.

So I believe that smoking cigarettes should be legal at the age of sixteen. Not so that I can buy them in a few months, but because sixteen year olds are mature enough to handle the responsibilities of smoking.