deus ex macchiato

Fabian Bazant-Hegemark's blog

Arbitrary limits

A thing that received more of my focus due to the nature of my education is the obsession with limits. At one level or another a society seems to have the necessity to break every grey down to one black and one white. Your date of birth defines your status as a child, your grade defines your success in education. We can imagine a range of possibilities and options, but at a certain level we need to break them into leveled certainties.

The Austrian Minister of Health just decided to raise the age limit for the sale of tobacco products to minors. Where you are currently eligible to buy cigarettes in Austria when you hit 16, starting mid 2018 you will have to be 18 years old. 2018 makes sense when you realize that the transition period for gastronomical businesses to become completely smoke free ends then.

So, that is a good thing. Austria is among the countries with the youngest smokers, and in general smoking is still very socially accepted and celebrated. There are non-smoking establishments, and official buildings have to be smoke free, but when you're in a group where more than zero people smoke, chances are, you will end up in a yellow/grey haze that evening.

But there is weird aspect to the whole argument, that doesn't really bother me when we talk about smoking, but might be important when we talk about other prohibitions and obligations.

When you are 16, you are not even allowed to drive a car. That is only possible when you reach the age of 18, or, if you pay extra and commit to harder testing and courses, 17. At the same time you are allowed to vote when you are 16. Your parents can no longer decide over your education, but they are liable for you to educate yourself until your 18 – a rather new law not yet in effect. You're allowed to drink beer and wine when you're 16, but hard liquor only when you reach 18. In addition, the nine counties have different laws regarding the protection of minors. So you're old enough to know how to decide on current events and the future of your nation, as far as a democratic process allows, but you're too young to understand a gas pedal. You're old enough to decide for yourself how to live your life, but your parents still have to ensure you start an apprenticeship somewhere.

It must be really infuriating to be a teenager these days. I remember being a teenager sucked ass, but geez, at least my choice of self harm wasn't reduced by laws. At least they weren't once my birthday had been 16 years ago.