NYC Lawmakers Propose Raising Smoking Age To 21

The same morning that the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the tobacco industry’s fight against new warning labels, lawmakers and regulators in New York City have proposed making it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to buy cigarettes.

The proposal was announced this morning by City Council speaker Christine Quinn and the NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. The law would give NYC the highest legal smoking age. Four states — Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah — and a handful of scattered municipalities currently place that age at 19.

“By delaying our city’s young adults access to lethal tobacco products we’re decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking,” Tweeted Quinn about the proposal. “By raising [the] smoking age limit to 21, no [high school] student will be able to purchase cigs & hand them to younger classmates.”

She later added that, even with the city’s previous efforts to curb youth smoking, the rate of young smokers in New York has maintained at 8.5% since 2007.

This morning’s announcement comes only weeks after Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed legislation that would require retailers that sell tobacco to keep the products out of public view.

In 2010, a U.S. District Court judge shot down Bloomberg’s efforts to require that every store selling tobacco products place graphic warning posters in full view.

And then of course there was the large-size soda ban that Bloomberg tried to enact, but which was labeled “arbitrary and capricious” by the courts.

City Proposes Raising Minimum Age for Cigarette Purchases to 21 [NY Times]