New york raising age to buy cigarettes to 21 – nytimes.com

The legal age for buying tobacco, including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos will rise to 21, from 18, under a bill adopted by the City Council and which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said he would sign. The new minimum age will take effect six months after signing.

The proposal provoked some protest among people who pointed out that New Yorkers under 21 can drive, vote and fight in wars, and should be considered mature enough to decide whether to buy cigarettes. But the Bloomberg administration s argument that raising the age to buy cigarettes would discourage people from becoming addicted in the first place won the day.

This is literally legislation that will save lives, Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, said shortly before the bill passed 35 to 10.

In pushing the bill, city officials said that the earlier people began smoking, the more likely they were to become addicted. And they pointed out that while the youth smoking rate in the city has declined by more than half since the beginning of the mayor s administration, to 8.5 percent in 2007 from 17.6 percent in 2001, it has recently stalled.

Besides raising the age to buy cigarettes, the Council also approved various other antismoking measures, such as increased penalties for retailers who evade tobacco taxes, a prohibition on discounts for tobacco products, and a minimum price of $10.50 a pack for cigarettes and little cigars.

The new law is a capstone to more than a decade of efforts by Mr. Bloomberg, like banning smoking in most public places, that have given the city some of the toughest antismoking policies in the world.

In one concession to the cigarette industry, the administration dropped a proposal that would force retailers to keep cigarettes out of sight. City officials said they were doing it because they had not resolved how to deal with the new phenomenon of electronic cigarettes, but others worried that if the tobacco industry lodged a First Amendment challenge to the so called display ban, it could have derailed the entire package.

The smoking age is 18 in most of the country, but some states have made it 19. Some counties have also adopted 19, including Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island. Needham, Mass., a suburb of Boston, raised the smoking age to 21 in 2005.

James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, warned on Wednesday that thousands of retail jobs could be lost because the law would reduce traffic not just for tobacco, but also on incidental purchases like coffee or lottery tickets. He predicted that the law would do little to curb smoking, as it does not outlaw the possession of cigarettes by under age smokers, only their purchase.

Just before the vote, Nicole Spencer, 16, was in Union Square in Manhattan with a cigarette wedged between her fingers.

I don t think that s going to work, Nicole said when she heard about the plan to raise the age.

She said she began smoking when she was about 13, and had no trouble getting cigarettes. I buy them off people or I bum them off people, she said.

She said that probably half of her friends at her high school smoked.

Nicole said she thought 18 was a reasonable legal age, echoing Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, who said he voted no because it was not right for the city to ask young people to make life or death decisions as police officers and firefighters yet to have no ability to buy a pack of cigarettes.

New york increases minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21

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U.S. News New York increases minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21 Agence France Presse
18 May 2014 Don’t miss stories. Follow Raw Story! Follow rawstory

New York raised the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21 on Sunday, in its latest initiative to encourage healthier behavior among residents.

The law, signed November 19 shortly before former mayor Michael Bloomberg finished his second term, had a six month waiting period before it came into effect but its impact can already be clearly felt.

“Under 21, no tobacco,” warned a small sign at the entrance of a small shop that sells smokes, newspapers, candy, coffee and cakes, in the Nolita neighborhood (North of Little Italy).

No tobacco, either, for anyone who can’t present a valid ID proving their age. Shopkeeper scan IDs to test their authenticity before handing over the box of cigarettes.

The measure unprecedented among America’s big cities raises the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18. It also applies to other forms of tobacco and to e cigarettes.

It’s the latest of New York’s efforts to reduce smoking in the city, which bans cigarettes and, as of April 29, e cigarettes in restaurants and bars, in parks or squares, and at the city’s public beaches. Some private residential buildings have also banned smoking.

Cigarette taxes in the city are also the highest in the country $5.85 a carton, which brings the overall price to around $12. In addition, the city has established a minimum price of $10.50 a box for cigarettes.

Nataleigh Kohn, 23, who works at a startup company, underwent her ID check with good grace.

“It is a good thing. People in high school can’t start smoking,” she said.

Thomas Wall, 24, a former smoker who works in architecture, agreed, though he said the measure probably wouldn’t eliminate teen smoking all together.

He compared the new age restriction to the ones around alcohol, which set the US drinking at at 21.

When underage people want alcoholic drinks, they often get them from older people who buy for them.

Shopkeeper Muhammad Arisur Khaman said he’s seen some complaints since the law was implemented, but not many. He just tells unhappy clients “It’s the law.”

The higher minimum age is “a step in the right direction,” said Pat Bonadies, a teacher walking with a group of students in Union Square.

The 52 year old said there has been a sea change in attitudes towards smoking.

“When I was younger, smoking was much more prevalent among teenagers and preteens in restaurants and social settings,” she said.

“Even my mother’s friends, they smoked during their pregnancies.”

The city has seen a sharp drop in adult smokers, from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.8 percent in 2011, according to official statistics.

But the smoking rate among young people has been steady since 2007, at 8.5 percent, which was part of the impetus for raising the minimum age.

Authorities hope that the new law will cut the smoking rate among 18 to 20 years by more than half.

New York hopes to inspire other cities to pass similar age restrictions.

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