City council to vote on raising age for tobacco purchases in nyc to 21 « cbs new york

Many New Yorkers seemed to support the proposed law.

«I think that’s how it should be,» one smoker told CBS 2&#8242 s Alice Gainer. «I think you should be 21. I think when you’re 18, you just got out of high school. You don’t really know life yet.»

«I think if they raise the limit, it would stop a lot of people from smoking,» said another man.

Some young adults such as Noah Hyams, 20, who does not smoke were optimistic.

I think your average teen consumer 18 to 21 will abstain, he said.

But critics say the bill won’t make a difference.

«I think people will still find a way to get cigarettes,» said smoker Rose Leonardo.

Some young smokers also were not so sure the new age requirement will stop anyone from buying cigarettes.

I don’t think it will make much of a difference, said Shabir Hamin. If kids want to smoke, they’ll smoke.

I was young I want to say 13 or 14 and back then it was a lot cheaper probably $5 a pack, and I just had people older than me buy them for me, said Roya Shojaee.

The bill targets retailers rather than underage smokers themselves a source of contention for lawmakers who opposed it such as Councilman Eric Ulrich (R 32nd.)

I think the city council made a big mistake today, what we are doing is essentially empowering a black market, Ulrich said. We are hurting small businesses that rely on cigarettes to bring people in to the stores.

Meanwhile, some business owners said raising the age would leave a noticeable dent in their revenue.

«I’m going to lose a lot of business,» said deli owner Wadah Arbuya. «Maybe I’m going to get hurt big time. Half my sales of cigarettes is between 18 and 21.»

If sellers violate the law by selling to people under 21, they would be fined up to $1,000 for each violation found in a single day and up to $2,000 for a second violation. Retailers could also lose their license to sell tobacco products.

Texas cigarette buying age would be highest in u.s. under bill — bloomberg

Texas would become the first state to raise the age to buy cigarettes to 21 from 18 as a way to curtail teenage smoking in a legislative proposal that may reduce tax collections.

The measure introduced last month covers all tobacco products and is designed to cut $1.6 billion in Medicaid costs for providing health care to smokers, according to the author, state Senator Carlos Uresti, a San Antonio Democrat.

It s costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars to care for the people with smoking related illnesses, said Uresti, 49. Maybe we can be a leader on this issue.

Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have raised the age to buy cigarettes to 19, while other states have kept the age at 18, said Thomas Carr, director of national policy for the American Lung Association in Washington. A proposal introduced in the Oklahoma House this year would increase the smoking age to 19.

About 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes, according to U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. She has urged policies to reduce teen smoking. About one of five deaths in the U.S. annually is tied to smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Raising the purchase age could have a real impact on smoking prevalence, said Maggie Mahoney, deputy director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, a St. Paul, Minnesota based group of lawyers that assists tobacco control efforts. By reducing the prevalence of smoking in this age group, fewer young adults will become addicted to cigarettes.

Cigarette Tax

Texas charges a $1.41 tax on a package of 20 cigarettes. Increasing the age requirement may result in a sales decline and reduce revenue by $40 million annually, according to the Legislative Budget Board, which advises lawmakers.

The Republican dominated legislature may balk at the proposal, said Matt Mackowiak, president of Potomac Strategy Group, a Washington based political consultant who works for Texas Republicans. Lawmakers may refuse to give up the revenue because of uncertainty about education funding and other big ticket items, he said.

The measure, pending before a legislative committee, needs an explanation of how reduced tax collections would be recouped, said Mackowiak.

Uresti disputes the $40 million estimate because it doesn t consider possible cost savings from reducing the number of smokers. He said his staff is working with the board to come up with better estimates.

A few states propose raising the smoking age every year, said Karmen Hanson, a program manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. No state has raised the age since 2006, Carr said.

A proposal in Rhode Island to increase the age to 21 died in the legislature in 2010. Opponents of the measures say 18 year olds should be able to make their own decisions.

There s also a liberty aspect, Mackowiak said. You are an adult when you re 18.

To contact the reporters on this story Darrell Preston in Dallas at dpreston David Mildenberg in Austin at dmildenberg

To contact the editor responsible for this story Stephen Merelman at smerelman