Gov. LePage just vetoed two bills – one to ban the use of hand-held devices while driving, and the other to raise the legal age for buying tobacco – on the grounds that they amount to using the law to try to change behavior. But passing laws to discourage people from doing things that put lives at risk is exactly what lawmakers should be doing. Legislators should keep that in mind and override the governor’s vetoes.

LePage announced the vetoes Tuesday during his weekly call-in appearance on the Bangor-based talk radio station WVOM. “I don’t believe that social engineering a society is going to create a good society,” he declared.

Although the governor didn’t go into detail about what he means by “social engineering,” he’s come out against it before – in reference to a failed 2016 referendum requiring background checks for gun sales – and it seems to be his shorthand description for policies that would influence behavior in ways he doesn’t like.

It’s hard to figure out, though, why he would oppose L.D. 1089, the hand-held device ban. It would widen the prohibition on texting while driving that the governor himself signed into law in 2011. It makes an exception for drivers who need to use a hand-held device to contact emergency services.

And it’s supported by the Maine Department of Public Safety and the Maine State Police, who say that distracted drivers cause 14,400 crashes in Maine a year. Police officials also pointed out that current laws are tough to enforce: People stopped on suspicion of texting while driving can easily get off the hook by claiming they were looking up directions or dialing a phone number.

The co-host during LePage’s latest WVOM appearance, Christian Greeley, even said as much on the air. But Greeley’s experience in law enforcement – he’s police chief in the town of Holden – wasn’t enough to sway the governor. LePage pushed back with the unconstitutional recommendation that officers confiscate a phone and examine whether the driver was making or taking a call or sending a text.

LePage offered equally sketchy reasoning regarding his veto of L.D. 1170 – the proposal to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21 – calling it an insult to someone who’s old enough “to strap a gun to their shoulder and go fight a war.”

He could make the same argument in favor of rolling back the drinking age to 18. But that’s something nobody is suggesting doing, and for good reason.

Adolescents’ brains are still developing, which predisposes them to becoming addicted and carrying that addiction into adulthood. That’s why tobacco companies want to get their product into the hands of as many teenagers as possible. As an RJ Reynolds researcher concluded in 1982: “If a man has never smoked by age 18, the odds are 3-to-1 he never will. By age 24, the odds are 20-to-1.”

Doctors started urging U.S. automakers to provide seat belts in cars in the 1930s. But it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that a federal law mandating the installation of seat belts in all new cars was passed. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved because lawmakers in Washington recognized their responsibility to incentivize healthy behavior. Now it’s up to lawmakers in Augusta to do the same thing.