NYC plans to raise smoking age to 21

New York City plans to raise the legal smoking age, making it illegal to sell cigarettes to those under 21 in an attempt to discourage the city’s younger demographic from smoking. Backed by city’s mayor, Mike Bloomberg, the new smoking bill will raise the smoking age to 21 years (from the present 18). This smoking bill is aimed towards improving health over the long-term, since research shows that those who do not start smoking by age 26 are unlikely to ever do so.

This bill would also result in New York being the first major city to set such a high age for smoking.

A young smoker

A young smoker walks through Midtown Manhattan (image by istolethetv).

The Guardian reports:

“Eight in 10 adult smokers in the city started smoking regularly when they were below the age of 21, and most smokers who are under age 18 obtain cigarettes from individuals who are just a few years older than them, city officials said.

While an increase in cigarette taxes contributed to a 15-point drop among youth smokers from 1999 to 2007, the number of high-school-aged smokers has held steady at about 8.5 percent over the last six years.

Cigarette packs sold in New York City currently carry a state tax of $4.35 and a city tax of $1.50 – making it the most expensive city in the nation to be a smoker.”

The US Surgeon General’s 2012 report declared smoking a “pediatric epidemic” in the United States and the world. It’s not surprising that once youngsters begin to smoke, many of them find it tough to quit.

No Smoking Sign

View this sign here.

Currently, approximately one out of every four high school seniors smokes regularly. The Washington Times reports, “Officials cited estimates that said that raising the smoking age to 21 would cut the smoking rate among 18- to 20-year-olds by more than half and reduce the rate among 14- to 17-year-olds by two-thirds.”

City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who has led this initiative, said “[the bill] will literally save lives. The more difficult it is for [young people] to gain access to tobacco products, the less likely they are to start smoking.” Quinn prioritizes protecting New Yorkers’ health over the loss of tax revenue the smoking bill would entail, according to DNAinfo.com.

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