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NYC wants to raise legal age to buy cigarettes to 21

Posted: 10:02 AM, Apr 23, 2013
Updated: 2013-04-23 10:10:19-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) — Nanny state or good public health policy?  Those are just some of the questions surrounding a proposal to raise the minimum age to buy cigarettes in the city.

The proposal announced by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn would raise the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.  The move is the latest in a decade long effort to crack down on smoking in the city.

Under federal law you have to be 18 to buy cigarettes but some communities including Needham, Massachusetts have raised the age to 21.  New York would be the first big city to hike the minimum.  Public health advocates say a higher minimum age discourages or delays young people from taking the plunge into smoking and that helps to keep them healthy.

One woman in Times Square agreed with the proposal saying ” I think it’s probably a good idea. I think a lot of people between 18 and 21 tend to buy cigarettes for younger people so I think that would eliminate a lot of the problem.” but another disagreed telling PIX11 “Personally I think its a bad idea because people under 21 are still gonna get cigarettes no matter how. She added they will ” Either go and get a fake I.D.  or go and buy them off  the streets.”

Some will no doubt see this as another intrusion similar to the Mayor’s ban on smoking in bars and restaurants and his proposal last month to keep cigarettes out of sight in stores.. Many of the measures have been upheld by the courts.  The law would take affect in a year if it passes as expected.