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The Tobacco 21 Bill Set for Action in New York City in May 2014

A new law called the Tobacco 21 bill will go into effect in New York City in May 2014. This law prohibits the sale of any tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes to anyone who is less than 21 years old. It is not against the law for anyone under 21 to possess tobacco products, however. Some towns and counties other than New York City have also enacted the Tobacco 21 law, including areas of Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Utah.

Starting in May 2014, anyone under 21 years old is prohibited from buying any tobacco products.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Those who support the Tobacco 21 law liken the law to the drinking age law enacted by Congress in 1984. After the legal alcohol consumption age rose from 18 to 21, a marked decrease in drunken driving accidents involving young adults was noted.

Those who oppose the Tobacco 21 law argue that young adults are old enough to make important decisions about their health. Oppositionists also believe that young adults who are prohibited in one jurisdiction can obtain tobacco in other jurisdictions that allow tobacco to be sold to people who are under 21 years of age. Finally, the costs incurred by small businesses from loss of revenue is a concern voiced by naysayers of the bill.


The New England Journal of Medicine

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