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In Mayor's Footsteps, Quinn Looks to Raise Minimum Age for Buying Cigarettes

by Connor Ryan
A A
Someone holding a cigarette.

Justin Shearer, flickr

The proposal would push smoking age to match legal drinking age.

Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker and leading mayoral candidate, and Dr. Thomas Farley, the city's health commissioner, put forth a proposal Monday morning that would require New Yorkers to be at least 21 years old in order to purchase cigarettes in the city.

While it would be illegal for young New Yorkers to purchase cigarettes, the proposal is not clear as to whether possession of cigarettes by those under 21 in the city would be illegal.

"By raising the smoking age to 21, no [high school] student will be able to purchase cigs [and] hand them to younger classmates," Quinn said Monday on Twitter.

Her support for this proposal stands alongside Mayor Bloomberg's long-established stance against cigarette smoking in New York City.

In fact, Bloomberg's work to ban smoking in parks, restaurants and other public places has been widely considered to be one of his greatest legislative efforts.

But the fight continues.

Last month, the mayor proposed legislation through the City Council that would require retailers to hide tobacco products so that customers would not be able to see them. He said the goal of the legislation is to discourage new smokers from picking up the habit — particularly New York's youngest.

Quinn stands with the mayor and says the public health effort against smoking in the city must move forward.

"Despite NYC's success in reducing tobacco use youth smoking rate flattened at 8.5 [percent] since 2007 NYC will be first major city to change that," she said on Twitter.

The minimum age to purchase cigarettes is 18 for most states, but is 19 for four: Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah, according to The New York Times. Needham, Mass., a suburb outside Boston, has raised its smoking age to 21.

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