New York City will soon become the latest to raise the tobacco-buying age to 21, and smokers are not happy about it.
The city council voted to approve the law on Wednesday night, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 30 days to sign it. 180 days after that, the law will go into affect. The news has people buzzing; many are angry that the age of 18 is considered informed enough to vote but not to choose whether or not to smoke legally.
“By increasing the smoking age to 21, we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking,” Bloomberg said. “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.”
NYC is now the largest city to enact such a change to an age as high as 21; neighboring states and cities have raised the age to 19 in recent years. The bill is the latest measure in Bloomberg’s effort to encourage healthy living in New Yorkers; last year the mayor pushed a ban on large sugary drinks in restaurants, although it was later repealed by a Supreme Court judge.
The tobacco changes–which include enforcing the age limit on electronic cigarettes and prohibits discounts on tobacco products–will also set minimum prices on cigarettes. Many members of the New York City Council back the law completely.
“This will literally save many, many lives,” said City Councilman James Gennaro, the bill’s sponsor. Gennero’s parents both succumbed to tobacco-related illnesses. “I’ve lived with it, I’ve seen it…but I feel good today.”
The law comes after a failed attempt by the mayor to keep cigarettes out of sight in stores until a customer requests them.