New York City to Raise Smoking Age From 18 to 21

    November 3, 2013
    Alex Williams
    Comments are off for this post.

Among its 8.3 million residents, 14 per cent of New York City smokes – the average price of a pack costs $11.90, which rakes in about $1.8 billion in tax receipts a year.

Last Wednesday night, the New York City Council voted almost unanimously on the “Tobacco 21” bill, which raises the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21; that goes for electronic cigarettes too. The council also approved a second bill called “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement” which will forbid discounts on tobacco products and steps up enforcements on vendors who attempt illegal tobacco sales.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is an advocate for anti-smoking laws, has 30 days to sign the bills. Once he does, the laws will take effect 180 days after they’re enacted, according to the council’s news release.

Bloomberg said in a statement that, “We know that tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking, so it’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start.”

“This will literally save many, many lives,” said City Councilman James Gennaro, the bill’s sponsor, a man whose parents died from tobacco-related illnesses. “I’ve lived with it, I’ve seen it… but I feel good today.”

One New York City smoker agreed with the law, saying that smoking is a choice reserved for the mature: “I think you should be 21. I think when you’re 18, you just got out of high school. You don’ really know life yet.”

While bureaucrats and others praised the bills, some younger New Yorkers, tobacco spokesmen, and business owners weren’t having it.

“You’re an adult; you should be able to buy a pack of cigarettes,” one New Yorker told CNN affiliate NY1. “I mean, you can think for yourself.”

“I think it’s ridiculous,” another New Yorker said, “Let us be, let us live.”

“New York City already has the highest cigarette tax rate and the highest cigarette smuggling rate in the country,” said Bryan D. Hatchell, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

“Those go hand in hand and this new law will only make the problem worse.”

With funding backed by tobacco-manufactures, a coalition of small shop owners expressed their disdain for the “Sensible Tobacco Enforcement” bill, noting potential losses in revenue.

“I’m going to lose a lot of business,” deli owner Wadah Arbuya told CBS New York. “Maybe I’m going to get hurt big time. Half my sales of cigarettes is between 18 and 21.”

James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, said that as a result of the bills, thousands of retail jobs would be lost because the laws would now just lower tobacco sales, but purchases of coffee or lottery tickets. Calvin predicted that the law would not reduce smoking as it does not outlaw under-age smokers to possess tobacco products.

(Image via WikiCommons)


  • http://thunderballresults.org Jason Willby

    I think this is a great idea, smoking does not benefit anyone but the government so raising it’s age, even if it stops one person, it could save a life, this is a terrible and really addictive habit and I welcome any measure to stop people from starting.

  • Scot

    Bloomberg seriously needs to get a reality check, fact of the matter is people know the dangers, 18 is supposed to be an age of adulthood when you are able to make your own decisions for yourself. Why should it be the governments right to say what you can and cannot put in your body. Bloomberg forgets his job is to uphold and maintain the society not to poke his nose into peoples personal lives. I’m not even from New York or a smoker but the guys righteous crusade about everything he deems evil really gets on my nerves.

  • Andy Johnson

    Since I no longer live in NY or smoke, the raising of the age for smoking really doesn’t affect me but has anyone calculated how many $millions they will lose in cigarette taxes? Looks like the funds may have to come from the drinking smaller amounts of soft drinks funds or the education funds. What are these guys smoking?