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    Dichotomous thinking with a shared conclusion: views of a New Zealand smoking ban

    In New Zealand, smoking is being restricted for those born after 2008, causing additional controversy but helping health of younger generations. Photo from Unsplash on Flickr License: Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

    New Zealand has recently passed a number of health laws, including a groundbreaking smoking ban for the next generation.  The law created an annually increasing age requirement for those born in and after 2008 to legally purchase tobacco products. Every year this generation ages, the age requirement to buy tobacco products increases along with them, creating a lifetime impossibility at legally attaining these products.

    The law has drawn varying opinions due to its very unprecedented, restrictive nature. The intent of the law is obviously for the health of the citizens of New Zealand, yet it raises obvious rights dilemmas

    “What the law says to me is that New Zealand is dealing with a public health issue in a way not possible in the U.S.,” said Mr. Ed Donnellan, history teacher. 

    Tobacco, outside of public health, has a dark history of unjust and cruel institutions, which is yet another reason to restrict its use, if not eliminate it altogether. 

    “Tobacco growing is connected to slavery in the U.S. and has been shipped to markets in Europe. Tobacco is a cash crop, not a necessity crop,”  Mr. Donnellan said.

    Additionally, Mr. Donnellan affirms that such a drastic measure as this law could never work in the United States. 

    “Tobacco is a dangerous product. Tobacco companies in the U.S. are too powerful. They would fight it here. Even if they were to fail and smoking were to decrease, they would find new markets,” Mr. Donnellan said.

    Ultimately, Mr. Donnellan represents the epitome of the view that this New Zealand law is necessary and will bring about a positive change, contributing to a generational improvement of health. However, the opposing viewpoint, that this new smoking ban contributes to a restriction of self-determination and the basic right to equality under the law, is undertaken by a Gonzaga student Gabriel Dorsey, senior. As a 17-year-old boy, who lives on the cusp of the new age requirement, he has the unique perspective of understanding the plight of the younger generation but is also able to empathize with the reverse side of the law, as he would still be able to purchase tobacco products in New Zealand.

    Dorsey is an advocate for freedom, making him a strong proponent for the side of the argument against the law. 

    Flag of New Zealand Wikimedia Commons

    Dorsey summarizes his view of the new, age-restricted smoking ban by saying, “It’s not fair in the slightest to divide a population so that some have to obey a law while others don’t.”

    Dorsey finds the law to be ageist, as it makes the purchase of tobacco products an option for some who are slightly older, yet impossible for the younger generation, regardless of how old the new generation becomes. The focus of the law is utilitarian, but should be aimed at justice and equality. 

    Regarding the future of the law, Dorsey believes that “it will be kept in New Zealand because I don’t think it will work here [The United States] because it is unconstitutional. A law like that cannot work in the world because it only serves to divide us.”

    Evidently, Dorsey favors a decision that is the same for all generations. He wants a decision that leaves the desire of the individual in the question, once they reach the age required to purchase tobacco products, rather than making this age requirement an impossibility.

    Both sides of the argument represent open-minded thinking towards the end of morality, regardless of each considering different solutions to be correct courses of action. Despite these opposing viewpoints regarding the law, it is apparent that neither side of the debate believes the law to be a possibility in the world at large, or at least not in the United States.

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