Mayor Bloomberg Plans to Change Age of Buying Cigarettes to 21

Alicia Powe

4/25/2013 10:15:00 AM - Alicia Powe

An eighteen year old is old enough to choose a president, drive, and give their life for their country but is too young to buy cigarettes as far as New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is concerned.

The politician notorious for his nanny state views wants to raise the age to legally buy cigarettes from 18 to 21 under a proposed legislation announced Monday by city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley and city council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“With this legislation, we’ll be targeting the age group at which the overwhelming majority of smokers start,” Ms. Quinn said at a City Hall news conference.

The proposal, only the latest in a string of the city's health-conscious mayor’s attacks on Americans' vices, would give New York the toughest tobacco rules of any major city according to ABC News. Fines and other penalties for selling cigarettes to minors would remain as they are now and would be imposed on the sellers, not the buyers or their parents.

New York officials estimated, that raising the age to 21 would reduce the smoking rate among 18- to 20-year-olds by 55 percent, and by two-thirds among 14- to 17-year-olds.

They also worked to implement a policy sharply limiting the sale of 16-ounce sugary drinks in New York. The big-beverage rule would have taken effect last week, but a judge put a stop to it, ruling it was “arbitrary and capricious.” The city is appealing and Bloomberg has urged voluntary compliance in the meantime.

Bloomberg, a billionaire who has given $600 million of his own money to anti-smoking efforts around the world, began taking on tobacco use in the city shortly after he became mayor in 2002.

Last month the mayor unveiled legislation that would "prohibit display of tobacco products" in most retail shops, requiring stores to hide cigarette cartons in bins, closets or behind store counters until an adult customer asks for a pack so that children and former smokers would not be tempted to buy them.

The legislation will also prohibit shops from taking cigarette coupons and honoring discounts.

A second law would impose new rules to make it harder to sell smuggled cigarettes.

"These laws would protect New Yorkers, especially young and impressionable New Yorkers," Bloomberg said at a Queens hospital.

Thanks to a hefty tax imposed by the Bloomberg administration, the price of cigarettes has skyrocketed in New York to as much as $14.50 a pack, with the highest cigarette taxes in the country. In most other US cities a pack of smokes can be purchased for less than five dollars.

Smoking at parks, beaches, restaurants, and bars and other public places is also banned in the city. Bloomberg conducted graphic advertising campaigns about the hazards of smoking. A federal appeals court said last year that the city couldn't force tobacco retailers to display gruesome images of diseased lungs and decaying teeth.

Mayor Bloomberg said during his 2013 State of the City address in February the next item he would like banned from the city is polystyrene foam, used in take-out containers and to-go cups in businesses throughout the city.

It is "something that we know is environmentally destructive," and "is something we can do without," he said during the speech. "We will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants."

The mayor has also crusaded against salt and artificial trans fats in restaurant foods, junk food in vending machines, requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus.