New York’s City Council passed a bill last month that will raise the minimum age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21. The new law, supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will take effect in six months. New York is the first major city in the United States to increase the minimum smoking age above 19.
“I don’t know why people think that raising it [tobacco sales] to age 21 will stop anything or help anything,” said Lang student Morgan Moore, adding that people drink before the legal age of 21 and illegally smoke marijuana at various ages.
The purpose of the new bill is to prevent younger people from becoming addicted to nicotine, according to a press release issued by the City Council.
The measure, however, does not restrict the possession of cigarettes by people under 21, just the sale. For vendors that violate this new law, the penalty is now $1,000 for first-time offenders, $2,000 for second-time offenders, and a retracted retail license for repeat offenders within a three-year period.
The City Council also voted to reduce the availability of discount tobacco products, to encourage current smokers to quit. The minimum price for all cigarettes and cigars will be $10.50 and smokers won’t be able to redeem coupons for cigarettes.
James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, told the New York Times that thousands of retail jobs could be lost since the law plans to also reduce purchases of supplementary items, such as coffee or lottery tickets.
“Students are still going to find ways to get cigarettes. A large portion of us come from out of state and can buy cigarettes to bring back for ourselves/friends on breaks or have friends from home ship them,” said Lang student Lauren Kleinfeld. “The law isn’t helping anything. It’s just another attempt to infantilize young adults.”