NYC’s Plan to Set Age at 21 for Buying Tobacco Products

On Monday April 22nd, 2013 officials constructed a proposal to set New York City with the strictest limits of any major city regarding the sale of tobacco. Announced by Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s health commissioner, and Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a mayoral candidate, both have put young New Yorkers into a decision making state. Whether or not to take the risk to begin smoking.

Both NYC officials backed their proposals by stating the fact that most people typically make the transition from experimental smoking to regular smoking around the age of 20. Passing this proposal would make buying cigarettes and other tobacco products harder and would prevent some young people into becoming lifelong addicts.

Targeting this age group is where most smokers begin smoking. Ms. Quinn states “We have an ability to intervene on that and make a difference.” By intervening at an early age, this would drop smoking rates within New York City and in turn lower death rates by smoking along with secondhand smoke. New York officials estimated that raising the age to 21 would reduce the smoking rate among 18- to 20-year-olds by 55 percent, and by two-thirds among 14- to 17-year-olds.

Student, Erik Malave, 23, states “By 18, people are responsible enough to make their own decisions…Forcing people to make themselves healthy tends not to work.” Malave has been smoking for three years and uses part of his day for cigarette breaks. When he was 18, he gladly acquired cigarettes for his friends whom were under-aged at the time. Will there still be a potential loophole?

The Council is considering a Bloomberg proposal to require retailers to keep tobacco products where customers cannot see them, which the mayor said would shield children from tobacco marketing and keep people from buying cigarettes on impulse. Will this strategy, when implemented, even work?

Under the proposal, the buyer would not be violating the law, but the seller would be. Fines and other penalties for selling cigarettes to minors would remain as they are now and would be imposed on the sellers, not the buyers or their parents. So the real question that will be answered if this proposal passes is, will this work?



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