If You’re Not Old Enough to Drink, You’re Not Old Enough to Smoke in New York

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Teenage smokers of New York, start stocking up (or just quit already): The city will be raising the age to buy tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to 21 from 18 under a bill introduced just approved by a City Council vote of 35 to 10, which Mayor Bloomberg says he will sign. The bill will also make it illegal to sell cigarettes for any less than $10.50 a pack, and it will increase the penalties for retailers who evade taxes. Per Bloomberg (the news service, not the mayor), "more than 80 percent of the city’s adult smokers start before age 21, according to Health Commissioner Thomas Farley." So why did some council members vote against it?

Some may have been listening to Jim Calvin, of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, who said, "these pieces of legislation are going to drive more of our customers into the arms of those bootleggers." But the dissenting voter doing most of the speaking to media is Jumaane Williams, who pointed out that people younger than 21 can make life or death decisions as police, firefighters, or soldiers, "and then you tell me they don't have the ability to decide whether to buy a packet of cigarettes?"