NYC Smoking Age: Would Christine Quinn’s Proposal To Raise Smoking Age To 21 Stop Teen Smoking?

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 23, 2013 5:14 PM EDT

NYC smoking age
The NYC smoking age may bump up to 21, should a new proposal from mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn be made into law. (Photo: Flickr/LawPrieR)

The NYC smoking age could be changing sometime in the near future should a bill submitted Monday by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn pass, the Washington Times reports.

The mayoral hopeful is marketing the bill, which would raise the NYC smoking age from 18 to 21, as a step towards curbing teen smoking in a city where 18,000 high school students smoke cigarettes, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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"By delaying our city's children and young adults access to lethal tobacco products, we're decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking, and thus, creating a healthier city," Quinn said in a news release.

According to Quinn, 80 percent of the city's adult smokers started smoking before they turned 21, and those who don't smoke regularly by the age of 21 are far less likely to start smoking.

The legal age for purchasing cigarettes in the U.S. is 18 in 46 states; only Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have changed the purchasing age to 19. The only other places in the U.S. that have made 21 the legal purchasing age for cigarettes are Canton, Mass., and Needham, Mass.

If Quinn's smoking age initiative passes, New York City would be the first major city in the U.S. to raise the smoking age to match the U.S. drinking age.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposed raising the smoking age in 2006, having threatened to squash two rival proposals that would have made the minimum tobacco purchasing age 19 and 21, New York reports. But, according to Daily Intelligencer, Bloomberg is on board with the idea this time around.

Furthermore, AP points out that Bloomberg has devoted $600 million to anti-smoking initiatives around the world and made the issue a priority shortly after stepping into office in 2002.

Some New York residents, however, don't think changing the NYC smoking age would keep teens from getting their hands on cigarettes. "It's just gonna open up more black-market sales," one smoker, Joseph Sydney, told the New York Post. "It's not gonna stop people from smoking. It's gonna cause the city to lose money."

Robert Bookman, attorney for the NYC Newsstand Operators Association, also told the Post that he doesn't think the city has the authority to dictate what adults can purchase. "This gives [19-to-21-year-olds] another reason to use their fake IDs," he said.

Should Quinn's proposal to raise the NYC smoking age to 21 pass, the law would take effect next year.

Read more from iScience Times:

Strict Tobacco Rules: Law Requiring Graphic Labels In Cigarette Packages Upheld As Smoking Age Limit Set To Be Raised In New York City

Diseased Ex-Smokers Ad: Will CDC's Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads Save Lives?

Cigarette Tax Increase: Why the 94-Cent Tax Hike?

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