NYC Smoking Age: Bloomberg Supports Raising It to... 21!?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is sure to win over more fans with a new proposal aimed at increasing the minimum age to purchase cigarettes to 21. Currently, the minimum age is 18. What's prompting the change? It’s just one in a long line of health regulations that the mayor has attempted to enact since he took office. 

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the proposal would target the age group when most smokers start. It is estimated that 80% of NYC smokers started before they were 21, and that 20,000 NYC public high school students smoke. Bloomberg has spent $600 million dollars of his own money on antismoking campaigns in the past. If successful, the proposal would make New York City the largest city requiring a minimum age of 21.

The proposal comes after some rather public failures, most recently the one to ban sugary drinks in excess of 16 ounces. Bloomberg banned smoking in restaurants, bars, parks, beaches and some other public places. His plan to place graphic anti-smoking images displayed wherever cigarettes were sold was met with serious opposition. Though not common in the U.S., anti-smoking slogans directly on cigarette packaging are fairly commonplace over seas. 

Antismoking Package Australia: 


United Kingdom Cigarette Packages:


The number of individuals who smoke is now at one in five, which represents an all-time low. Smoking is at its lowest among young adults, according to a Gallup poll. While smoking trends have remained somewhat stagnant, the fact that younger generations are less likely to pick up the habbit is hopefully an indication that smoking rates will continue to fall. The trend is also echoed by a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study, which also shows smoking rates on the decline. 

Gallup Poll Trends:


CDC Trends:


With smoking already on the decline, are these kinds of laws really necessary or just burdensome regulation?

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Andrea Ayres-Deets

PM Politics Intern- M.A. in Writing from the University of Warwick. Lover of sci-fi, awkward situations, and coffee.

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