All Elgin had to do is wait. But no! They decided to listen to the latest liberal group with a solution in search of a problem by raising the municipal smoking age to 21. The city council figured that, with an impending similar statewide statute set to hit the books in January, they’d jump the gun with a meaningless symbolic gesture just to get a few pats on the back from the nanny-staters who refuse to let natural selection take its course.
If you recall, we previously discussed how the teenage smoking rate has plummeted from 23 percent in 2005 to a scant 7.6 percent in 2017. And while I’d certainly like to see it sitting at zero, considering the vagaries of human nature, this is as low as it’s gonna go. The truth is, that miniscule rate is a massive success story for which a slew of educators deserve a boatload of credit.
But a funny thing happened on the way to that Springfield forum! Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the statewide statute and there’s absolutely no hope of any kind of override. So, now Elgin and Aurora stand alone as the only Kane County municipalities with teen smoking bans, and you’d have to travel as far as Wheaton to find a similar state of affairs.
So now, all your average 18 to 20 year-old Elgin smoker has to do is head to South Elgin, Streamwood, or Sleepy Hollow to pick up a pack of their favorite smokes, and they’ll likely pick up a few other items along the way.
So, let’s do the math!
Elgin’s population has increased to 114,000 of which 32,000 are 17 or under. Extrapolating from that, we get approximately 6,000 residents between the ages of 18 and 20. Apply the 7.6 percent teen smoking rate, and you end up with about 500 smokers, who at the going rate, polish off an $11.50 pack of cigarettes a day.
Let’s keep going.
Since those less affluent teens tend to buy ‘em by the pack, that adds up to about four trips to the grocery or convenience store a week. Given the grazing habits of most teenagers, they’ll probably spend another five dollars on snacks and soft drinks, too. With an average purchase of 1.75 packs of cigarettes a trip (seven packs a week in four trips), the average amount spent per trip comes to $25, plus $2.13 in sales tax.
Stay with me! We’re almost there!
That means, for absolutely no good reason, Elgin merchants are about to lose out on $2.6 million in annual sales with an associated sales tax loss of a quarter of a million dollars. And that ain’t chump change.
Before my fellow liberals start grabbing their torches and pitchforks one more time, smoking is a suicidal habit which costs this county $170 billion in direct medical care and another $150 billion in lost productivity every bleepin’ year. But it is legal! And as my hero Driver Tom likes to say, if we can send an 18-year-old to die in Iraq or Afghanistan, they should be able to smoke a cigarette if they so choose.
And banning cigarettes would work just as well as Prohibition did.
So let’s do a little more math!
Assuming that Springfield smoking bill would pass, the Elgin City council took it upon themselves to appease a nanny-state liberal group in search of a problem by willfully embarking upon a specious symbolic act that will not only fail to put a dent in the local teen smoking rate, but will put a number of Elgin merchants at a distinct disadvantage to their neighboring suburban counterparts.
Great job folks!