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New York Makes It Harder for Adults to Buy Cigarettes

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

In their continued efforts to make New Yorkers healthier through local ordinances, the New York City Council voted on Wednesday to make it more difficult for New Yorkers to buy cigarettes in the city limits.

Not only does this apply to young people, who will have to be 21 years old to buy cigarettes when the law takes effect in 6 months, but smokers throughout the city as they now will have to pay at least $10.50 for a pack of cigarettes or little cigars.

Advocates of the bill, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that by raising the age restrictions on cigarettes, less young people will become addicted to nicotine. The younger a person smokes, proponents argue, the more likely they are to get addicted in the first place.

And, while protesters of the bill argued that by 18, people can drive, vote and fight in wars, and are mature enough to make their own decisions on smoking, city council members and the mayor disagree.

Instead of an 18 year old adult being able to make a personal decision on smoking, New York City has decided that since people do not make the healthiest choices, they are going to make the choice for them.

Since New York is the first city to raise the age requirement from 18, it is unclear how effective the new city ordinance will be. However, if history teaches people anything it is that this law will most likely fail in its goals.

After all, it is a city ordinance, one that no other local municipality has to enforce and New Yorkers have many options available to them to travel just outside NYC jurisdiction and purchase their cigarettes there. So many people, not just young adult smokers, will take their business and potential tax revenue elsewhere. It doesn't seem like a well thought out plan by New York City officials.

Photo Credit: Robert Stolarik / New York Times

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