New York Raises Age of Tobacco Purchase

By Amanda Chiarello,
Domestic News Writer

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is no stranger to addressing health concerns in the state of New York.

It seems like yesterday that the controversial, yet effective Mayor created a movement for restaurants to post the calorie counts of their meal options on their menus. Bloomberg has not stopped his crusade against unhealthy habits, and has been focusing his attention on tobacco, causing him to sign legislation, on Novem­ber 19, rising the age people can legally buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.

According to The L.A. Times, “the law affects the kind that produce smoke and electronic cigarettes, which have been marketed as a healthy alternative but which city lawmakers say encourage young people to pick up the nicotine habit.”

The new law, which will take effect in six months, also prohibits anyone un­der the age of 21 from buying chewing to­bacco, rolling papers, powdered tobacco, pipes and small cigars. It does not outlaw the possession of cigarettes by under-age smokers, only their purchase.

New York City is the first major met­ropolitan area in the nation to adopt this law. It is not, however, the only state to raise the age of purchasing tobacco prod­ucts. Neighbor state New Jersey raised the age from eighteen to nineteen in 2005.

“This is an issue of whether we’re going to kill people,” Bloomberg said at a City Hall signing ceremony, according to The L.A. Times. “This century, a billion people will die from smoking around the world, and we don’t want any of the people that die to be New Yorkers.”

According to CNN, mayor Bloomberg also signed off on another bill which will effectively stop discounts on tobacco prod­ucts and up the pressure on those who sell them and try to evade taxes.

The New York State Department of Heath ran the numbers, estimating about 500 million dollars in losses the state in­curred because of tax evasion. The second bill will be titled, Sensible Tobacco En­forcement.

Not only are consumers furious about the new law, but convenience-store owners argued the law will encourage teens to buy tobacco from the black market.

As reported by the New York Times, people are very adamant about the rites they are allowed to partake in, and do not believe the rights they have are balanced. For example, some argue that they are al­lowed to fight in wars, drive a vehicle and vote for leadership, yet they will not be able to smoke a cigarette.

According to city re­cords, about 19,000 New York high school students are smokers. 80 percent of the city’s smokers picked up the habit before the age of 18.

Officials have seen this age increase work in other states and believe the transi­tion will be as effective in the Big Apple.

The logic states that a youth will now have to ask a person in college or older to buy them cigarettes rather than having someone in their same high school do it for them, and that this will dis­courage youths from persu­ing. In Needhma Mass., the age was raised to 21 in 2005, and has seen a drop of 50 percent in youth smoking.

“Since Bloomberg took office, the city has passed laws limiting the use of artifi­cial trans fats in prepared foods, and re­quiring major restaurant chains to list calo­rie counts on menus,” stated the LA Times.

“Bloomberg has banned smoking in most public places, including parks and on beaches. His attempt to limit sales of super-sized sugary sodas remains tangled in a lawsuit.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 26 print edition.

Contact Amanda at

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