Ten years after smoking was banned in bars and restaurants in New York City, also known as the Smoke-Free Air Act, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking on city smoking regulations. He, along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, wants to raise the age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 in all five boroughs of NYC.
This new proposed smoking ban wouldn't make it illegal for those aged 18-21 to have tobacco products on them or use them, only to actually buy them. Should it pass, it would make this law the first of its kind in a major city in the United States.
Just last month, Bloomberg pushed to have all tobacco products out of sight. Called the Tobacco Product Display Restriction bill, the legislation would require all tobacco products to be hidden except during restocking or while being purchased by someone of legal age. During a March interview with "The Lead" on CNN, Bloomberg explained, "Smoking is going to kill these kids. It's going to leave them with not the great career prospects that you'd like, not the education that you'd like." His hope is to reduce smoking in the under-21 age range, in which most people start smoking.
Of the initiative, Quinn, who is spearheading the initiative, stated, "Too many adult smokers begin this deadly habit before age 21. By delaying our city's children and young adults access to lethal tobacco products, we're decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking, and thus, creating a healthier city."
According to statistics from the American Lung Association, "Every day, almost 3,900 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 950 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit." The ALA also states, "Among adults who smoke, 68 percent began smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 85 percent started when they were 21 or younger. The average age of daily smoking initiation for new smokers in 2008 was 20.1 years among those 12-49 years old."
Bloomberg is no stranger to health reforms -- popular or otherwise -- in the city. In 2006, he barred NYC restaurants from using trans-fats, and in the same year, restaurants had to start posting calorie info for their food items. In 2009, he called for salt reduction, and in 2012, Bloomberg took aim at sugary sodas. His latest is calling for a ban on Styrofoam food packaging, which in a city of takeout everywhere you look, isn't getting the loud cheers he probably expected. All of his reforms have earned his administration the label "Michael Bloomberg's Nanny State."
According to Quinn, "Twenty-thousand public high-school students smoke in New York, and the youth smoking rate has remained flat at 8.5 percent since 2007. By one estimate, raising the threshold to 21 could reduce smoking among 18-to-20-year-olds by as much as 55 percent."
Sound off! What do you think of raising the cigarette purchase age to 21 in NYC?
Lauren Romano fell in love with NYC at a young age and has since navigated her way through the stores, museums, clubs, restaurants, parks, markets, and everything else the city has to offer.
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