I was about ten years old when I had my last cigarette and unfortunately my father caught me at it. Being a keen sportsman and wanting me to excel at sport the way he did, he beat me black and blue and that was the end of my cigarette smoking.
Mind you, seven years later, I wanted to look older than I was so invested in a pipe in order to give me some sort of gravitas. I have smoked and enjoyed my pipe ever since and in time of stress, it has helped me greatly.
Now it seems that a parliamentary committee has or is about to recommend that the minimum age for buying cigarettes and I presume pipe tobacco is to be raised from eighteen to twenty one.
I suppose the committee is vaguely sensible in suggesting that eighteen is too young an age at which to start dabbling in a habit that might cast a shadow over the rest of a teenager’s life but will this stop those kids who actually want to smoke – I doubt it. They will find a way.
All of which leaves me more than a little confused. I looked up the political website, Guido Fawkes who pointed out that no fewer than nine of the MPs on this anti-smoking committee – that is sixty per cent of them – have called for the voting age to be lowered to sixteen.
I wonder if I am alone in doubting the sanity of this. These turnips think that anyone under the age of twenty one is too immature to decide whether or not to buy a packet of cigarettes. At the same time, they are happy to entrust children five years younger with the most important decision anyone can make in a democracy.
Of course, it will come as no surprise that all nine of the committee members who back votes at sixteen belong to Left-wing parties – whether Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP or the Greens.
Clearly, they calculate that children are more likely than adults to vote for their daft ideas. What is more, they are almost certainly right, if we are to judge by voting patterns at recent elections, broken down by age. The younger the voter on the whole, the more likely he or she is to back the Left.
But is it unfair to ask for a little consistency? If people are too young at twenty to decide whether or not they should buy a packet of Silk Cut, then surely they must be too young at sixteen to make decisions that will affect the future of millions of their fellow citizens? Until 1970, Britons had to wait for the vote until they were twenty one. Nobody seemed to see anything wrong in that.
As for why younger voters tend to lean towards the Left, a part of the reason must be that they tend to be more naïve and idealistic, with less experience of real life than hardened old cynics of my advanced age. The fact that most eighteen year-olds do not pay direct taxes must also have something to do with it. It is always far less painful to see the Government redistributing other people’s hard-earned money than our own.
But I suspect that another crucial factor may be at work: the irresistible urge, felt by the young through the ages, to annoy the older generations. We have all been through it I suppose.
I have always been old for my age – perhaps it was the pipe – but just as many of my parents’ generation were exasperated by the hippies and long-haired layabouts they spawned, so people like me rise to the bait when young idiots tell us that the Queen is a symbol of racist oppression, that Chavez’s Venezuela was a model society or that Robert Mugabe was a freedom fighter who liberated his country.
The answer, I suppose, is that we grown-ups should try not to get angry – difficult though this often is. We should remind ourselves that young people have always said and done silly things, and take comfort from the thought that one day, most of them will grow up.
I often think we should not waste our breath on attacking these annoying young folk but should reserve our anger instead for the grown-ups who pander to them. Only this week some high ranking fool at King’s College, London, apologised for causing ‘harm’ to students by publishing a photograph of Prince Philip in a newsletter.
Also this week one hundred and fifty Oxford dons have said they will impose sanctions on students from Oriel until their college pulls down its statue of the Cecil John Rhodes, who let’s face it was an enlightened liberal, by the standards of his day.
Or the woke warriors who decreed that all members of the House of Lords – including the likes of the venerable ninety one year old Betty Boothroyd – should be forced to take a course in sexual harassment training, whatever that may mean.
Sadly, people like these self-important idiots will never grow up.
But let me try and be tolerant of the foolish young. I do care about future generations – I have grandchildren of my own – and think they should be discouraged from taking up smoking, at least until they are old enough to make a sensible choice. So, yes, let’s try raising the legal age for buying tobacco to twenty one.
But while we are about it, for the sake of consistency and this country’s future, shouldn’t we raise the voting age to the same? Or would that be inverted ageism? After all there are so many ‘isms’ in this modern world that it must surely be offensive to someone.