U.S. News


NYC Raising Minimum Age For Buying Tobacco From 18 To 21

The new policy will ban people under 21 from buying cigarettes but won't criminalize possession.
Posted at 4:48 PM, Nov 19, 2013

If you're old enough to drink, then you're just old enough to buy cigarettes in New York City. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign a bill Tuesday raising the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. 

"Health officials have long argued that a majority of smokers become addicted to cigarettes before they turn 21. They're hoping that this legislation will stop teenagers from even thinking about picking up and smoking." (Via YNN

"City health officials hope raising the age from 18 to 21 will lead to a big decline in smoking rates in younger people. But, the ban has limitations. Teenagers can still posess tobacco legally." (Via WNYT

Legistlators have been in the talks about the tighter restrictions for a while. Also this week, Bloomberg.com points out, the city passed measures to "set a $10.50 minimum price for a pack of 20 cigarettes or little cigars, ban discounting of tobacco products and increase fines for illegal and untaxed sales." 

New York City's city council approved the restrictions in late October, with Mayor Bloomberg's final approval coming this week. (Via The New York Times

New York now becomes the largest city to raise the purchasing age of cigarettes from 18 to 21. And a writer for Slate says this movement should expand to more than just the city. 

"Congress should consolidate this momentum into a nationwide regulation that lifts the minimum sales age to 21."  (Via Slate

The writer also says the bill was inspired by similar restrictions made in Needham, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb, in 2005.

In that area, only 8% of adults smoke. That's 56% lower than the rest of Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It also states the move has helped curb minors from picking up the habit by, saying illegal sales to minors is an estimated 2.1% there, compared to 10.3% in the rest of Massachusetts.

And this isn't the first time Mayor Bloomberg has attempted to put restrictions on something in hopes of improving the public's health. 

Bloomberg attempted to ban the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and convenience stores, but a state judge struck it down. (Via CNN

New Jersey and Hawaii are also reportedly considering similar tobacco restrictions.