Yesterday the New York City Council voted in an overwhelming majority (35-10) to increase the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21. Needham, Massachusetts was the first city to raise the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21 in 2005, and it is expected Camden, Massachusetts will raise the age from 18 to 25 in January of next year. Hawaii is expected to vote on similar legislation in December, and New Jersey is considering anti-smoking legislation.
Mayor Bloomberg, who is a strong supporter of anti-smoking legislation, has 30 days to sign the bill into law. When the bill is signed, the law becomes an enactment after 180 days. A bill was also passed to have the minimum price per pack of cigarettes at $10.50 and increases law enforcement on illegal tobacco sales. New York City statistics show that youth smoking has remained at 8.5 percent since 2007. Advocates of anti-smoking legislation support tougher laws and higher price to deter people from beginning to smoke.
Tobacco manufacturers and tobacco store owners are not happy with the bill for new standard minimum rates and bans on coupons. They suggest this will push consumers to black market sales. With the passage of this legislation, an individual can vote and join the army at 18, yet not drink or smoke in New York City until 21.
New York City already has the highest cigarette tax rate and the highest cigarette smuggling rate in the country," said Bryan D. Hatchell , a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which makes Camel and other brands. "Those go hand in hand and this new law will only make the problem worse."
Mayor Bloomberg previously was supporting that visual signs of tobacco had to be locked away or removed from view in stores, but this did not move forward as cigarette manufacturers sued on similar legislation in Haverstraw, NY which violated their companies’ free speech to communicate their products to customers.
The New York City Council reported that they needed more time to evaluate the problem of e-cigarettes whose manufacturers promote healthier alternative to smoking yet still contains the addictive nicotine substance.
Check out the attached video for both sides of the discussion with E.R. physician Dr. Travis Storkon on the talk show the The Doctors.
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