The new NYC tobacco law is aimed at banning the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21. This would make New York the first state to prohibit the sale of cigarettes to adults.
Mayor Bloomberg was at City Hall on Tuesday to sign the legislation which raised the age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21. The thinking behind the legislation is that it will stop young adults from experimenting with cigarettes at an age where they are most likely to become addicted.
That logic follows research which showed that 80 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21. In other words, if you haven’t started smoking by the age of 21 you are not so likely to start.
The mayor, a former smoker himself, also signed legislation which set the minimum price for a packet of cigarettes at a massive $10.50. The new laws will also prohibit retailers from offering specials of discounts on tobacco products.
Mayor Bloomberg responded to criticism that the new NYC tobacco law could be economically harmful and result in a loss of employment. He said: “This is an issue of whether we are going to kill people.”
The new laws don’t go all the way though. Teens will still legally be allowed to have tobacco, if they can manage to get their hands on some, despite the new minimum age. The new legislation may even encourage a surge in black market sellers of tobacco to supply the thousands of already addicted teenagers.
Thomas Farley, the City Health Commissioner, said that authorities want to make buying cigarettes inconvenient for teens especially those who obtained their nicotine from older friends.
“Right now, an 18-year-old can buy for a 16-year-old,” Farley said.
Jim Calvin, the president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, said he was against the new NYC tobacco law:
What are you really accomplishing? It’s not like they are going to quit smoking. Why? Because there are so many other places they can buy cigarettes. Every 18-year-old who walks out of a convenience store is just going to go to the guy in the white van on the corner.
New York already boasts the highest taxes on tobacco in the country, and when the new law is put into place it is hoped the legislation will be a big deterrent for smokers in the city’s war on tobacco.
It remains to be seen whether the new NYC tobacco law will in fact deter smokers from smoking when it goes into effect in 180 days time.