New York City Makes History Again
Earlier this week, the New York City Council took an historic and bold step to reduce youth smoking rates. The City Council passed the "Tobacco 21" and "Sensible Tobacco Enforcement (STE)" bills to raise the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 from 18 and to combat illegal cigarette smuggling and stop tobacco industry discounting. By delaying youth's and young adults' access to tobacco products and cracking down on coupons and tobacco tax evasion, we're preventing the next generation of New Yorkers from becoming addicted to smoking and ultimately saving thousands of lives.
When the bill is signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg, New York City will be the first large city in the country to have a minimum smoking age above 19.
Young people often get cigarettes from older friends or even family members. In fact, one study showed that 90 percent of people purchasing cigarettes for minors are 18 to 20 years old. Under the new minimum age of 21, New York City high school students will neither be able to purchase cigarettes themselves nor to get their 19- or 20-year-old friends to buy cigarettes for them.
And the longer we can prevent someone from trying cigarettes, the less likely it is that s/he will become a regular smoker: young experimental smokers typically become regular smokers around age 20. People who begin smoking at such an early age are more likely to develop a severe addition to nicotine than those who start at a later age.