If the citizens of a democratic nation begin to abuse the liberties they are afforded, at what point should a government take decisive action? Undoubtedly the US federal government exist to regulate society through law and guidance, and have a duty to protect the social fabric from the actions of individual citizens. So in instances where accepted laws or freedoms are being taken advantage of to the detriment of society, there is an argument that the government should take steps to change their rules of operation.

Creating a More Structured Social Environment

It should be said that changing laws to create a more structured social environment does not change the approach of a democracy. What it does is still empower citizens but in a far more considered way, and introduces an element of accountability for individuals and their actions. The act of restructuring the social element of the US would help to tackle many health and behavioral issues, notably those concerning smoking, obesity and anti-social conduct, and ultimately create a more productive and content generation of citizens.

Smoking is a relevant example, especially given the level of statistics and information that exist on its practice and consequences. Despite the fact that the decline in the number of high school children and adolescents who smoke has slowed in the last 3 years, and the eminent research that suggests that smoking addiction is more likely to develop during these formative years, most US states employ a minimum purchasing of 18. This, like the UK’s legislation that allows individuals older than 16 to buy cigarettes, is outdated and not reflective of the damage that smoking can do.

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