City Council To Vote On Raising Age For Tobacco Purchases In NYC To 21 [Photo]
According to CBS News, “The City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on a measure that would raise the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes in New York City from 18 to 21.
It’s the latest effort by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to target the cigarette industry. Supporters believe the older age would discourage young people from starting early.
“This disease took my mother because she started smoking when she was 18, and it’s taken many other people’s mothers,” said City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens).
The bill is expected to pass with strong support in the City Council. If it does, it will be the first law of its kind in the nation, but Gennaro predicts other parts of the country will follow New York City.
“Why are we doing this?” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan). “Well, let’s look at the data. Eighty percent of adult smokers in New York City started before age 21.”
Many New Yorkers seemed to agree with raising the age. “I think that’s how it should be,” one man told CBS 2?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.
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. The bill targets retailers rather than underage smokers themselves.
Meanwhile, some business owners said raising the age would leave a noticeable dent in their finances. “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.”