Saturday, November 28, 2020

From one Momvocate to another. 

I wish we could do lunch and talk.

The world is full of concerned Moms. It's in our job description and many of us take that job very seriously. I've seen some of you on the news, watched you at Congressional hearings, have heard you testify before city council's, and have seen your social media posts. I watched the movie You Don't Know Nicotine and it taught me that there are 2 sides to every story. I learned a lot about your concerns from watching it. I could see the concern in your eyes and hear it in your voices. I know in the end we all want the same thing. We want our kids to be safe, healthy, and making good choices. We fear for their well being, their health, and even their lives. 

I'd like to share with you my story and why I'm a Momvocate. While many of you have stories about your kids that begin with vaping, my story starts with smoking and ends with vaping. I hope by the sharing of concerns and our stories we can find common ground to adress the issues that concern all of us.

 I come from a long line of people who smoke. My Dad smoked, was a veteran, and struggled with parenting skills. He didn't understand the line between discipline and abuse. It was a line that was crossed often. He didn't want a daughter and was not pleased with my birth. It was a blessing the day Mom kicked him out and the beatings stopped.

Mom's side of the family had issues, too, where boys were God and girls were trash. Mom tried to do better. Sometimes she succeeded, sometimes she failed. Learned behaviors are hard to unlearn. I grew up feeling unwanted and unworthy - 2 things I never want my child to feel.

My Grandpa (Mom's Dad) was my hero. In a world that I felt wasn't happy to have me here, I was his favorite. He made me feel special. I started smoking when I was 10. Not because I wanted to be cool and fit in, not because I wanted to be a rebel and break the rules. I started smoking because my Grandpa smoked and I loved and admired him so much, I was so grateful for his love and acceptance, I just wanted to be like him. 


Being a tomboy, I didn't really date much in high school. I was always one of the guys. I had a thing about not belonging to a "click", a tribe, a group. I became lonely and did things kids shouldn't do, like drink and experiment with drugs. I don't think that smoking led to those things, I think that poverty and abuse and family issues and loneliness made me higher risk to go down that path. I was a "smart" kid with good grades, while my brother struggled with school and his disabilities, so the family focus was on him. Growing up I didn't understand his needs and was jealous of the attention he got. That also gave fuel to my need to "act out" and do things kids aren't supposed to do. Looking back on my youth, I realize how loudly I was crying out in my own way to be noticed and accepted.

By the time I was done with high school, I was smoking up to 2 packs a day and continued to do so for over 40 years. I lost count years ago of all the times and ways I tried to quit smoking. It felt like I was a failure. The point of the story of my youth is that parents can do their best, and still have kids that experiment, make bad choices, act out, or seek relief from feelings a parent might not even know a kid has. Time to move on to adulthood.

As a young adult  I developed some health issues and was told I'd never be able to have a child. I have a bit of a defiant streak in me, and I told those doctors that I believed that when I quit messing up my life, settled in with a good man, God would give me 1 child. It would be a boy with blond hair, blue eyes, and freckles. 

In 1984 I met that man. In 1985 I gave birth to an amazing boy with blond hair, blue eyes, and later on - freckles! God gave me my miracle baby. We thought we were being good parents, but now I live everyday with the guilt that our miracle baby grew up breathing second hand smoke. What damage did we do to him, exposing him to that? Did this contribute to his learning disabilities, his seasonal affective disorder, or his unspecified social disorder (believed to be undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome)? There's no science that says those things, but I think it's natural for a mother to blame herself. I'll get back to my son's health in a bit.



The amazing Mom I had as a kid went away as one traumatic experience after another finally got the best of her. As she aged, she was obviously mentally ill, but would not seek medical help, the paranoia would not allow her to trust doctors. 
Mom's smoking did a number to her health and she had COPD.  She then quit smoking. After she quit smoking, her mental illness rapidly got worse. She got so bad, so verbally abusive it started to have an effect on my own mental health and I did not have any communication with her for 4 years. 

Then mom's neighbors started calling expressing concern. I called my brother and he drove up here to check on her. She was gravely ill, very delirious, and agreed to let him take her to a doctor. The doctor told her she had heart failure and cancer, with very little time to live. They admitted her for the night to get her stabilized and get her signed up for hospice care.

I had a key to her home and went to take care of her dog. The condition of her home took my breath away. She had become a hoarder and her home was packed with stuff. Some rooms were so full, you could only take a couple of steps into the room. There were binoculars at every window, so she could watch out into the woods for the people her paranoia convinced her were coming to get her. 

It was evident that she had been too ill to care for herself or her home for a long time. There was no way the county was going to let her live out her life there in those conditions. Christmas Day we put out the call for help. A Christmas Miracle happened when a dozen of the most loving, amazing friends joined my son and I at my mother's home and cleaned up things I choose not to go into detail about, so that my Mom could come home to die.

I spent the last month of my Mother's life with her, caring for her as much as she would allow. She struggled to breathe, it was exhausting for her to get up and use the bathroom. I sat with her as I heard her last breath leave her body at 2:04 a.m.. Smoking had killed another one.

I went outside and had a cigarette.

July of 2014 in the wee hours of the morning, my phone rang. I could barely hear my 29 year old son as he said in agony "Mom, I think I'm having a heart attack". We almost lost him that day. It was the worst day of my life. He was airlifted to a different hospital. The hour drive to get to him was agonizing, as we had no way of knowing if he was dead or alive. Healthy guy, no blood pressure issues, no cholesterol problems, but the doctor said that smoking caused 3 clogged arteries in his heart. After putting 2 stents in his heart, his life was saved. 

He didn't start smoking until he was 18. It only took 11 years to do this damage to him. I hope I did a good job of parenting my son, but I don't think I will ever forgive myself for smoking around him and setting the example of smoking being OK. After his heart attack, he tried vaping and he quit smoking. The doctor told him if he started smoking again he would die. My son hasn't smoked since. His doctor encourages him to continue to vape to prevent relapse.

Our next scare was  the day my husband called me and said he couldn't breathe. My son and I rushed him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with COPD. By now, I'm sure you can guess the cause - SMOKING. Now he's inhaler dependent and his quality of life sucks. It will get worse as he ages. He quit smoking after being diagnosed with COPD.

I continued to smoke. My teeth started falling out. Yes, that is a smoking related issue, too. With many years of no dental insurance, and a problem with letting people put fingers in my mouth due to PTSD, a side effect of being raped and what was done during the rape. I spend my time embarrassed to smile or speak in public, because people assume that a toothless person must be a meth head or something.

I have spent my adult life trying to quit smoking. I have tried everything. The only thing that worked for me was Chantix, but after being on it for 3 weeks, I became a danger to myself and my doctor took it away from me. November of 2014 I tried vaping and I dual used for a few months before I accidentally quit smoking. I didn't try to quit, I was just vaping in places I couldn't smoke and ended up transitioning to just vaping. I have been smoke-free ever since.

I'm proud to say that my step-grandson has also quit smoking thanks to vaping, and my great grand kids are now the first generation growing up in a smoke free home. My whole family is now smoke-free! Vaping has changed the lives of 4 generations!

My husband has been confined to our home since fall of last year, because of a big influenza outbreak followed by the COVID pandemic . He sits out there in our rural home with no contact with anyone besides my son and myself. Our granddaughter has not been to our home in months. He is very high risk of dying if he gets influenza or COVID-19. COPD is an ugly price to pay for smoking.

July of this year was 6 years since my son had his heart attack. 2 days after that anniversary, his girlfriend called me and told me I needed to come get him as he's sure he's having another heart attack. I rushed to his side and drove him to the ER. They met him at the door and rushed him back. I parked the car and they told me I needed to go in the back right away. I was only in his room a couple of minutes when he coded and they told me to go to the hallway. I stood out in that hallway calling out to him the whole time, hoping he'd hear my voice and not slip away from us forever. They saved him, rushed him to surgery, where he coded again. They placed another stent in his heart. This is when we learned that his smoking when he was a young adult gave him heart disease. He will be on medications for the rest of his life and will always be at risk for another heart attack.

Every time my phone rings, fear grips my heart. The first thought that crosses my mind is did he have another heart attack and if he did, did it kill him this time? As a mom, I know you know how frightening this can be.

As many of you fear your children using vapor products, I wish with a broken heart that my son, my husband, and my mom would have never started smoking and would have had the option to vape instead. I wish we would have known that one of the reasons mom's mental illness might have gotten so much worse was because she quit smoking and we would have offered her an alternative source of nicotine to ease some of her suffering and the heartbreak we all experienced watching her deteriorate. 

I learned to be a Momvocate from my Mom. From birth her life threw her one hard knock after another. She never gave up. She never quit fighting for what she believed was right. She was generous and giving. She was a kind lady outside of the behaviors her mental illness caused later in her life.  I cherish the memory of my mom, Margaret Place. It's a horrible legacy to know that she died twice.  The first time when the mental illness took away all the goodness in her and replaced her with an angry, paranoid person who could no longer trust anyone. The second time was from the COPD, Heart Disease, and Cancer - a death I refer to as "death by smoking". I hope none of our kids have to witness their mom dying twice.

I am hopeful that the movie You Don't Know Nicotine will teach more of us that there are 2 sides to every story. I hope the movie will motivate Momvocates from all sides to sit down and talk about the issues that are worrisome to us. I hope we can find ways to help youth make better choices, help society do a better job of enforcing the law, and continue to leave life saving technology on the market for those who need those products. I hope we can get away from stigmatizing people and substances, to leave a better future for all.  

Thank-you for sharing your stories. I hope my story will give you a perspective as to why moms like me fight so hard to save what moms like you are fighting against. My dream is that someday it will be hard to find a Mom with a story like mine. I'm guessing that some of you also have a dream of someday a Mom not having a story like yours. I'd give anything for us to find a way to sit down and talk about how to protect kids like yours AND protect kids like mine. It just doesn't seem right for concerned moms to be at odds with each other, when we could accomplish so much more if we found a way to work together.







Monday, December 23, 2019

My Way or the Highway

If a person has cancer, we do our best to do everything in our power to help them get rid of it. We try as many different kids of treatments, medications, and surgeries as necessary to get the job done. If we can't cure it, we do everything we can to extend their life, keep them comfortable, and provide them with the best quality of life that medicine, faith, and support by loved ones can provide. As science and technology progress, we will be able to do even more for victims of cancer.
When a child is born with a disability, we do everything we can to help them overcome it. If it's something they will live with forever, we do our best to provide them with a productive and meaningful life by giving them the tools and support they need to live up to their full potential. We make accommodations so they can be valued members of our communities. As science and technology progress, we will be able to do even more for people with disabilities.

If a person becomes addicted to drugs, we try to help them. We have treatment programs and support programs. If the person struggles to remain drug free, we have medical interventions that can help some people move past their addiction and return to a fully productive life with their families, friends, and as members of society. As science and technology progress, we will be able to do even more for people battling drug addiction.



As the automotive industry grew, cars were able to go farther and faster. Accidents caused injury and even death. We've enacted laws requiring our vehicles to have built in safety features. These help reduce fatalities and injuries. We've also enacted "rules of the road", things like speed limits to further reduce the dangers of being in a car. As science and technology progress, we will be able to add even more safety features into our vehicles and save more lives. 

Such is the way of modern man. We identify a problem and we work towards solutions, and if a solution doesn't work for everyone, we look to science and technology to find even more and better solutions.


Or at least we do until we talk about people who smoke. It used to be we didn't think it was dangerous. Then we learned different. We did what man does best, we went on the hunt for solutions for smokers. We offered them ways to quit. We started therapies, support groups, we invented nicotine replacement therapies and medicines all to help smokers. For some smokers, these options helped them quit this deadly habit. Some smokers weren't able to quit. 


This should be the part where we say as science and technology progress, we will find more and better ways to help people quit smoking. But we refuse to accept science and technology when it comes to people who smoke. Smokers found a technology that helps them quit. They invented a device and over the years they have improved the device. Why isn't society embracing this new technology that doesn't cost tax payers any money and improves the health of their loved ones, by helping them quit smoking?

When do we tell a cancer patient "get cured my way or die"? We don't and we wouldn't. Nor do we tell an alcoholic "get sober my way or die". We don't tell someone with a disability to deal with it locked in a closet with no adaptations to help them succeed. We will never go back to cars with no air bags or seat belts to reduce the potential harm of going from A to B.


Why does this country think it's OK to tell a person who smokes "quit my way or die"? Shouldn't we be cheering for every smoker to kick the habit in what ever way works best for them? Do we really care if they quit cold turkey, use a quit line, chew gum, take a pill, or use vapor technology to quit smoking?


People in white coats in labs invent amazing things, but it is not possible for them to find the cure for everything that ails mankind. Sometimes what's needed most is the people fighting the battle to figure out what works best for them and invent their own cure. 


Many people who smoke have found their cure in a little battery operated device that is 95% safer than smoking. That little device can help millions of more people quit smoking, if we stop our current path and don't regulate the product out of existence.

It's time to focus on the smokers. 
Let them quit smoking in peace. My way or the highway shouldn't be the message we send them. 






Saturday, August 3, 2019

"This Is My Fight Song"

I like to share stories from the vape shop and have 2 today I'll combine into 1 story. 1st off, a customer with special needs comes in to purchase e-liquid. She is with her group home staff. We helped this amazing person quit smoking a couple of years ago. She is limited to $10 spending money for vape stuff. She is here 1x per week and we give her a special deal, including tax. She either gets a 30ml and a coil or two 30mls for her $10. Today was a staff person who I've never seen before. That staff person mentioned they smoked and they will never vape because it's more dangerous than smoking. WHOA! They now know the truth. And my customer helped to educate her staff person!

The shop is a mess, it's in the middle of being remodeled and I should be putting stuff back in the cases, but there is so much advocacy work to be done, so I fire up my get motivated to fight for vape song and spend some time on the computer. Regular walks in the door, stops dead in their tracks, starts humming along to the song, then busts out laughing and says "Are you fighting for vape again? What do you need me to do?". 


I love our customers. From the ones we have to fight for to the ones who stand firmly buy our side and fight with us. Please fire up my favorite get to work song and fight with me Fight Song - Rachel Platten

Don't give up!

*All photos are screen shots from the video.

 


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Tears.......

 
Time to share a story from a local vape shop owner! 

"I'm an emotional old lady, and I'm going to admit over the last couple of weeks, I have shed a lot of tears. From the never ending assault on this amazing industry, to the harsh reality of the 10 month verdict, to the next day being the 5 year anniversary of the smoking related heart attack that almost killed my 29 year old son, to today, I'm a roller coaster river of happy, sad, worried, elated tears. And when I get down, it seems that something reaches out and bitch slaps me a good one, reminding me to never give up up.

It was time to lock up the shop last night when a guy in pretty rough shape walked in. He was so out of breath he could barely walk. He just came from the doctor and the doctor told him this is it, quit smoking or die. The old guy reached into his pocket for his phone and had to pull out 2 inhalers first. My hubby has COPD, so I recognized that one of them was Symbicort, and mentioned it to the man. Yep, he has COPD, too. Much worse than my out of breath husband. The old guy uses 2 different inhalers and a nebulizer. (spelling?).

The man liked the Smok Infinix. I asked him how much he had to spend. He looked at the floor and said $20.00. I looked over at my son, and he had the same thought as me. I pointed to the man's hat and asked if he was a Veteran, and of course (Vietnam), he was. We don't have a military discount, but we're not going to tell that guy. So, he ended up with a 30mL of our house line, an Infinix, and a box of pods - with selling him the liquid at our Friday sale price (on a Tuesday LOL) and our newly discovered military discount, it came out to exactly $20!!!! We got him set up and he was so exhausted, he could barely smile as he said thank-you and he headed out the door. I felt so bad for him, I muttered a little prayer.

The guy just came back to my shop! He's smiling! He hasn't had a cigarette since last night. AND AND AND!!!! Here's the exciting part.... his buddy saw him "puffing on that thing" and had to try it. Now he wants one. So I ask if his buddy is a Vet, too, and he is. So what the hell, his buddy got an Infinix and a 30ml for 20 bucks and they're going to share the box of pods.

Off he went and he's going to the Legion for lunch. Says he'll be back in a couple of hours with more buddies, because getting old sucks and he's got grand kids and these puffing machines make it easy to not smoke! Guess I'm having a flash sale for Veterans!!

So now I'm in tears. Don't get many old folks coming in to quit anymore. Took an old Vet to remind me that Freedom in all it's forms is worth fighting for. So go ahead - yell, cry, punch a wall, write a letter, take a day off, but what ever you do, don't give up. Come fight with me. Come fight with all of us. We have so many lives yet to save."

I promise, I'll stand with you, I'll fight with you.
Momma Vape

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tobacco Harm Reduction Takes a Hit in Minnesota


We've all heard the heartbreaking news that over 480,000 Americans die from smoking related causes every year. We've also heard the projections that a BILLION people around the world will die from smoking this century. Heartbreaking to think of so many early deaths, so many families grieving for loved ones. So much money spent on the health effects of smoking. 

Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is a proven strategy in countries like the UK and Sweden, and if America had any brains at all, we would follow the lead of these countries and embrace THR ourselves. These products help smokers switch to a safer alternative, and don't pose a risk to people who are around smokers.

When it comes to THR, the United States has taken a more cautious approach. As a matter of fact, we've gotten way off track here in America. We forgot the war was on smoking, and have switched our focus to nicotine, which is a stimulant much like caffeine is. Because we've forgotten about the war on smoking and changed our strategy to a war on nicotine, we are going to see more needless deaths than we should be seeing.

Minnesota is a prime example. We have gone down the path of restricting adults access to THR products which are legal in MN. We are doing that one city and county at a time. From banning adults from being able to purchase a flavored THR product anywhere they can buy a cigarette, to banning some adults from purchasing any THR products, to restricting where some people can buy THR products, we're a mixed bag of regression and oppression here in Minnesota.

Just this week the city of Brooklyn Center passed an ordinance that restricts the purchase of some THR products to adult only stores, while leaving it legal to buy a pack of cigarettes at the corner gas station, the local grocery store, and the neighborhood pharmacy. It will now be easier in Brooklyn Center to purchase the cigarettes that can kill you, than it will be to buy things like vapor technology that can help people quit smoking and save lives.

Also this week Ottertail County, MN decided to circumvent the jurisdiction of cities to pass ordinances over THR products (THR is lumped in with tobacco in MN) and ban young adults from purchasing THR products by calling their new ordinance a "Public Health" ordinance instead of a "Tobacco" ordinance. The county has now decided to tell all cities in it's borders that young adults can not buy products that can help them quit smoking for reasons of "Public Health". What is healthy about that?

I'm not sure what the lawmakers in MN are thinking (or smoking?), or if there is something weird in our water, but it breaks my heart to see our leaders making it hard or illegal for adults to purchase the products that can help them switch from smoking to a safer alternative. Are we telling our citizens that even though we say they should quit smoking, secretly we hope they never will?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What happened to the war on smoking?


There was a time everyone believed smoking was safe. Then along came the Royal College of 
Physicians proclamation that it wasn’t and the war on smoking was born. What happened to the war 
on smoking and why aren’t the declining numbers of smokers being celebrated?

Between government funded (taxpayer) health departments and nonprofit health / tobacco control 
organizations, it is mind boggling the millions of dollars that are spent on tobacco control in this 
country. Where does the money come from? Some states use a small portion of the Master 
Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments.

Nonprofits also receive donations from citizens and corporations. The pharmaceutical industry often 
donates to health orientated organizations. This includes companies who manufacture everything from 
nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, to quit smoking medications, to cancer treatments. Is
this a conflict of interest? If you make products that are supposed to help people quit smoking or 
survive cancer, what happens if everyone quits smoking?

I’m starting to wonder when fingers are going to be pointed at the pharmaceutical industry, the 
anti-tobacco groups, and our government? Why is it that NRT products and medications have such a 
low rate of success in helping smokers quit? People are told if they fail to quit smoking to keep trying 
even if it takes them 30 tries to quit.

What a merry go round of job security this makes! Pharma companies have a few success stories to 
brag about, most smokers will fail to quit and have to buy smoking cessation products many times, 
while pharma companies look like the good guys for donating to organizations that want to prevent 
people from smoking. These organizations have worked for decades to solve the problem of smoking 
related death and disease, and even though we have less smokers, we haven’t solved the problem.

There’s a new kid on the block that's helping people to quit smoking. It’s called vapor technology. A 
product that is not made by the pharmaceutical industry. This is a product that has a much higher 
success rate of helping smokers quit than traditional NRT products and cessation medications. Vaping 
is not FDA approved for quitting smoking, and even though there is no tobacco in vapor products, the 
FDA deemed it a tobacco product. 

NRT Product vs. Vapor Product

As more people quit smoking and make the switch to 95% safer vaping, tobacco companies are 
making less money. States are bringing in less tobacco taxes, and there is less money handed out in 
MSA payments. Less people are using NRTs and prescriptions to quit smoking, so the pharmaceutical 
companies are making less money. As more people quit smoking (or never start) the whole health care
industry will make less money as fewer and fewer people get smoking related illnesses or cancer. 
Fewer people with cancer means less surgeries and hospitalizations, less chemo and radiation and 
less medications - which brings us right back to the pharmaceutical industry.

Why do the nonprofits who waged war on smoking (which kills people) now wage war on nicotine 
(which doesn’t kill people)? Do they want everyone to quit smoking or just enough people to look like 
they are accomplishing something? Why is the nicotine in vapor products the focus of attention? It is 
the same nicotine that is in NRT products. Why are these organizations screaming about the dangers 
of nicotine in vapor products when the FDA says the nicotine in NRT products is safe to use for an 
unlimited amount of time? What happens to these nonprofit groups and political campaign funds if the 
pharmaceutical companies stop donating?

Maybe we need to start paying closer attention to Big Government and Big Pharma. The pharma 
industry has touted their products for years to help people quit smoking and too many smokers have 
failed to quit. Vaping is not a pharmaceutical product. Vaping is the CONSUMER solution to the 
tobacco problem. People like it and it works.

It’s starting to feel like most of you should keep smoking, because somebody needs the money. If you 
die in the process, you are just a casualty of war. And it’s not the war on smoking, it’s the war on what 
money is in whose pocket.

If you end up to be one of those casualties, may you rest in peace. I'm sorry money was more 
important than your life.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

 

Twenty One - What if we limit adulting to just one age?

 
Is anyone in this country getting confused about who can do what at what age? When you are an adult depends on where you live in the United States and what you can do is often limited by what state, county, and city you live in. You're a kid in one location and an adult in another. What a confusing message we are sending to the younger generation!

I have a solution to this problem. Let's just make the legal adult age 21. Let's ban young people from all things that can damage their health or well-being until they are 21. Let's remove all things from their lives that might teach them unacceptable values until they are 21. Let's wrap our young in an innocent cocoon of bliss and shield them from everything until they are 21.

We have lots of do-gooder busy bodies out there lobbying for our health and to save the children / young adults from so many things. Let's make their lives easier and just change the whole kittenkabboodle to 21. Let's address a few of the many things that cause harm in one form or another to young people. This will begin our list of what to ban anyone under 21 from having access to...

No cell phones until 21. Too many young people use electronics to cyber bully others. They do things like share naked pictures of each other (sexting), they use it as a way to find out where parties are and go out drinking. Kids make drug deals with cell phones.

How about no TV, computers or tablets until 21? There is too much violence and sex on the TV. Kids are sitting around, filling their minds full of garbage and getting fat. They are getting lazy. Send them out into the fresh air and have them get some exercise. We'll have less behavior problems in our schools when kids have burnt off some of that energy while protecting their minds from the junk on TV. Computers and tablets would ONLY be used for educational activities before the age of 21. The internet is a land mine of filth and ugly things that children should not be exposed to.

We also should ban video games until our young people are 21. Well, maybe we could allow some educational ones for when the weather is too bad to go outside. Video games are violent, sexualized, full of stereo types, have drinking and smoking in them, and don't teach our young people about life.  Is your under 21 going to whine about being bored? Hand them a good book, give them a chore list, and if they are old enough have them go get a job.

Let's ban all sugar until 21. Obesity is is a HUGE problem and a major public health concern. No pop, no cake, no cookies, and certainly not allow them to drink those chemical laden energy drinks! We should also ban white flour. We should pass laws on how many carbs and empty calories we can feed our kids. We should ban candy and ice cream being served to our children. We should just make a national menu that is healthy and everyone with kids follow it. No independent choice of what to eat or drink until you are 21.

No sex before 21. Young people shouldn't be making babies and risking getting diseases until they are an adult and understand the risks and responsibilities.

No marriage before 21. That's a huge step in life, and people should wait until their brain is more developed before making a major life decision.

Imagine no drivers license until you're 21 because too many young people get in accidents, causing property damage, injuries and death. How much money would be saved? How many lives would be spared?

You'd wait until 21 to take out a loan or get your own checking account or a credit card. Want to go to college? No problem, have Mom or Dad take out a loan, you'd be their responsibility! Better yet, let's just keep all young people in school until they are 21. Mandatory minimum first 2 years of college education.

We already restrict drinking to 21. Why not make it that way for EVERYTHING? Voting, making medical decisions, owning a gun, smoking, buying a home, signing a contract, and joining the military.

Let's "do the right" thing and treat people like they are a child until they are 21. Think of all the children we'd be protecting from the adult world! Would they be wiser, make better decisions, and have more common sense? Will the world be a better place if we make them wait until 21 when their young brains are more developed before they step out into the adult world? Would any of them be any healthier or safer?

Oh, but wait!  At one time in history, 21 was the legal age. Unfortunately, back in the good old days we still had underage drinking, smoking, sex, and gambling. We still had obese people and people polluting the air and people shooting each other. We still had addicts and thieves. We had child molesters and abusive people. 21 did not solve any of those problems.

When are you an adult? When are you mature and knowledgeable enough to understand what it means to take something away from an adult and start treating them like a child? Are you willing to ban someone from something that could save their life and make them wait until they are 21? There are always unintended consequences to prohibition. As we pass more prohibitions, crime increases as the black market grows. Are you ready to accept the responsibility of being a party to the cause of illegal activities?

To all the young people out there, lobbying and protesting and fighting for things to be changed to age 21, are you willing for all young people to loose all rights, choices, and privileges they may want  until they are 21? Or are you only willing to see the age changed for things YOU'RE against? If you want to take away something that is legal from someone, then you should be willing to give up something that is important to you. If you're not willing to do that, why do you think you're entitled to tell others how they should live their life? 

Is freedom important to you?