NYC Wants to Raise Smoking Age to 21

Would be one of the highest cigarette-buying thresholds in country

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 22, 2013 1:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – The possible next step in New York's apparent quest to become the healthiest (and eco-friendliest) city in the nation: Raise the smoking age to 21. Under a new proposal from the city's health commissioner and City Council speaker, New Yorkers would have to wait until their 21st birthday to buy cigarettes, the New York Times reports. That would be the highest threshold of any major US city; the smoking age is currently 18 in New York and most of the rest of the country but goes as high as 19 in four states and some counties. Just one Massachusetts suburb has it set at 21.

It's not clear whether it would be illegal for under-21s to possess cigarettes, or just to purchase them. The proposal is just NYC's latest effort to crack down on smoking: After Michael Bloomberg took office, smoking was banned in restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, plazas, and other public spaces; Bloomberg is also trying to make retailers hide tobacco products. But his policy of putting up graphic anti-smoking ads in stores selling cigarettes was reversed in court. Another proposed bill would set a minimum price for a pack of cigarettes: $10.50, CBS News reports.

Cigarette packs are displayed at a convenience store in New York, Monday, March 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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