Smoking age rises to 21 in New York City

New Yorkers under 21 are no longer allowed to buy cigarettes. Credit: Getty Images
New Yorkers under 21 are no longer allowed to buy cigarettes.
Credit: Getty Images

The New York City Council passed legislation today raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, as well as a law raising the minimum price of cigarettes in the city to $10.50 and strengthening penalties against vendors who sell cigarettes on the cheap.

Councilman James Gennaro, the lead sponsor of the bill to raise the minimum age, hailed the bill as “the next big thing for the city, and hopefully for the state and for the country.”

New York City will be the first major city in the U.S. to have a minimum tobacco purchasing age as high as 21.

Gennaro noted the city’s aggressive work to combat teen smoking between 2001 and 2006, which has been credited with cutting the number of teen smokers in New York City down by half.

But Gennaro said progress has been stalled “since about 2007.”

“We need the next big thing and this is the next big thing,” he said. “I’m confident of it.”

Gennaro first put the bill forward in 2005, and said since then he and his colleagues have been gathering scientific data to support their side. Now, he said, other places around the state, as well as in California and New Jersey, are considering similar legislation.

Gennaro said the bill’s proponents felt it was important to push the age all the way to 21, rather than just to 19, as some areas in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and the entire state of New Jersey have done.

“We thought that that would make the best difference,” he said.  Places that raised the age to 19 ”have made some headway,” the councilman said, but in other parts of the world where the age has been raised to 21 “we saw that there was a big difference made by doing that.”

He also noted findings that showed most of the people who buy cigarettes for people under 18 are under 21.

The bill was careful to include e-cigarettes as well, a move that Gennaro said they felt was “very important” in preventing 18- to 20-year-olds from becoming nicotine addicts “if not tobacco addicts.” Besides, he argued, ”the science on the e-cigarettes is not particularly good.”

One of the bills’ detractors, Staten island Councilman Dan Halloran, took to Facebook during the Council’s stated meeting to announce he would be voting against both bills.

“Liberty and free markets are on the way out of NYC,” he wrote.

In dismissing 250A, the bill raising the minimum age, he said: “At 18, you are old enough to serve our country in war — and to vote… You should be able to buy cigarettes.”

And in answer to 1021A, the bill making cigarettes more expensive and strengthening penalties for those who sell them for less, Halloran said: “The government should not be in the business of price setting in a free market — bad enough we tax such items too much.”

The bill to raise the minimum age passed by 35-10. The councilmmembers who voted against it were Charles Barron, Vincent Gentile, Dan Halloran, Vincent Ignizio, Oliver Koppell, Michael Nelson, Jimmy Oddo, Domenic Recchia, James Ulrich, and Jumaane Williams.

Councilmembers Gentile, Halloran, Ignizio, Jackson, Oddo, Ulrich, and Williams also voted against 1021-A, and were joined in that opposition by councilmembers Darlene Mealy and David Greenfield. That bill passed nevertheless, 36-9.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Movies

Interview: 'The Quiet Ones' star Sam Claflin on…

"Hunger Games" co-star Sam Claflin talks about his new horror film "The Quiet Ones," plus how technology connects him with fans.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.