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City Proposes Raising Age for Cigarette Purchases to 21

Monday, April 22, 2013

No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes in New York City, under a new proposal announced Monday that marks the latest in a decade of moves to crack down on smoking in the nation's largest city.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn discussed details of a proposed law that would raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21. City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, some of Quinn's fellow City Council members and health advocates were to join her.

Under federal law, no one under 18 can buy tobacco anywhere in the country, but some states and localities have raised it to 19. Texas lawmakers recently tried to increase the minimum age to 21, but the plan stalled.

Some communities, including Needham, Mass., have raised the minimum age to 21, but New York would be the biggest city to do so.

"With this legislation, we'll be targeting the age group at which the overwhelming majority of smokers start," Quinn said.

The American Lung Association estimates 85 percent of smokers begin the habit before age 21. New York City has seen a steeper drop in smoking than the rest of country over the last decade — a decline many observers credit to several anti-tobacco initiatives introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

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Comments [3]

Brendan from Upper West Side

The reason why armies need to recruit 18 year olds is that they are able to be trained to do something profoundly dangerous and against instinct, namely turning toward incoming fire and attacking. This is why basic training is so tough -- it's about reprogramming.

Cigarette manufacturers and marketers (and really any producer and seller of products) want to establish behavior patterns and associations as early as possible, and for a long time they were able to infiltrate a relatively unregulated market.

Apr. 24 2013 10:45 AM
Rachel Arkin from Manhattan

I think making cigarettes as difficult to obtain and expensive will deter some people. If it deters one person it is worth it.

Apr. 24 2013 10:37 AM
neil from State College, PA

"21" sounds arbitrary. If the government has the power, than why not "91?"

Apr. 23 2013 09:18 AM

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