Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em: NYC Becomes First City/State to Raise Smoking Age to 21

Up in smoke. (Getty Images)The New York Observer – by Drew Grant

As someone in the office just put it: “You can die for your country, but you can’t smoke a cigarette.” That line, usually just applicable to drinking throughout the United States, will soon apply to anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 trying to buy tobacco productsin New York City.  Today, Mayor Bloomberg signed a new law (passed by City Council earlier this year) that means in 180 days it will no longer be legal for high school seniors to use time-honored traditions to look cool at parties where there are college kids.  

This is the first time in America’s history where a city or a state has raised the age to prohibit young adults from purchasing tobacco products.

Of course, it’s all for “our own good.”

“This is literally legislation that will save lives,” Christine C. Quinn said back in October right before the bill passed 35 to 10.

Mayor Bloomberg also set a companion law making the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes $10.50. Although Jesus, when was the last time you saw a pack of your favorite brand sold in the city for ONLY ten bucks? Also, no more 2-for-1 specials, so sorry, Newport fans.

“This century, a billion people will die from smoking around the world and we don’t want any of the people who die to be New Yorkers,” Bloomberg said. “That’s the one thing we can do.”

And don’t expect new mayor Bill de Blasio to be any more sympathetic to your nicotine junkie needs. According to

  •  Obesity and smoking remain two of New York City’s biggest killers—which is why de Blasio has been a strong supporter of reforms like banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and the policy’s expansion to parks and public spaces. De Blasio has also backed mandates to post calorie counts to inform consumers and ban harmful trans-fats. These policies have not always been popular, but they have collectively saved thousands of lives.

This is going to remain tricky territory for the e-cig crowd, who have already been fighting legislation that lumps “vaping” products in with those that use tobacco.

While the new bill doesn’t single out e-cigs,  a proposed update to a New York City Department of Health Ordinance would update the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigs and accessories.

Pretty soon New York City will just force us to keep our New Year’s resolutions, whether we want to or not. We’re just waiting for that gluten ban and the mandatory calisthenics class required for all city residents…maybe THEN we’ll finally be healthy.

Follow Drew Grant via RSS.

3 thoughts on “Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em: NYC Becomes First City/State to Raise Smoking Age to 21

  1. NYC is wading into a big issue over e-cigs as pharmaceutical nicotine is not always gathered from tobacco, it depends on who makes it so I imagine the city is going to walk face first into a series of lawsuits and the likely scenario of black markets for tobacco and e-cig ephemera and the city just sidelined.

    Nicotine is found in greatest abundance in the nightshade family that produces tobacco YET it is also found in carrots, most green vegetables and other foods, is NYC going to start taxing carrots for their nicotine content? Will you need ID to buy a pack of broccoli just in case you feel inclined to dry it out and give it a smoke?

    The sensible people in the room should be saying “lets move people from ‘analogs’ to the safer healthier alternatives”, people will see the logic there as giving up from e-cigs is a million times easier than from tobacco cigarettes yet does this infringe too on the basic human rights to choose what you put in your own body? Are we in an age where we cannot choose for ourselves but courts will force children to have suspect medications pumped into them?

    They cannot have it both ways.

    Anyone ever interested in e-cigs and what its all about should google up the ECF (Electronic Cigarette Forum), I have been off cigarettes for a year and the change is profound and the UK is miles behind the US on electronic cigarettes, our government is quite happy to let VAT bring in their revenue and leave it at that until someone comes along with conclusive proof that nicotine itself inhaled through steam is as harmful as the thousands of nasty hidden chemicals tobacco gives us for free…

    1. There is a huge black market already in nyc for cigs(among other things ha ha) due to the price of around $10 a pack or more. Some individuals bring them up from SC or other states where the price is much much less. Often they will sell at half the cost you would find in a store. They dont have the ny state tax stamp but if you are smart you save one from the plastic sleeve on the packs you already purchased and place it onto one of the packs you have gotten from out of state. I know people who have been pinched due to this. There are other ways as they are brought in on container ship from china and have seen some of those also but mainly asian smokers in those communities.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *