New York City Wants To Raise Legal Tobacco Age From 18 To 21


Big, paternalistic government taking yet another step toward infantilizing Americans. At 18 you’re old enough to fight in wars, enter into legal contracts, be tried as an adult for crimes and drive in cars but in New York City they want to make it so you’re too young to choose to smoke a cigarette.

The age to legally buy cigarettes in New York City would rise to 21 from 18 under a proposal that officials unveiled on Monday, a measure that would give New York the strictest limits of any major American city.

The proposal would make the age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products the same as for purchasing liquor, but it would not prohibit people under 21 from possessing or even smoking cigarettes.

It is the latest effort in a persistent campaign to curb smoking that began soon after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office, with bans on smoking in restaurants and bars that expanded more recently to parks, beaches, plazas and other public places.

Frankly, I think the age-21 drinking law is ridiculous. Either you’re an adult at 18 or you’re not. If a 20 year old isn’t old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes under the law, then he or she shouldn’t be held as an adult under other areas of the law.

But the real issue here is enforcement. The State of New York has a hard enough time enforcing taxes on cigarettes, with as much as 60% of the cigarettes sold in the state being bootlegged to avoid taxes.

Does anyone really think that the City of New York is going to be all that effective in cracking down on 20-year-old smokers? I’ll bet they’re not all that effective at cracking down on under-18 smokers.

And is this really the most effective use of the City of New York’s tax revenues?