“A bill introduced in the council Monday by Quinn and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley would make New York the first major city in the country to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.
“That will literally save lives,” Quinn said. “The more difficult it is for [young people] to gain access to tobacco products, the less likely they are to start smoking. The more likely they are to live longer.”The bill is a sign that Quinn, a leading mayoral contender, would carry on Mayor Bloomberg’s trademark public health agenda if elected. Though Quinn opposed the mayor’s move to ban big soda, she made it clear Monday that she admires his health initiatives, which critics deride as creating a nanny state.
“The mayor probably has the most effective public health agenda of any mayor in history in the United States,” she said. “This is another example of moving that aggressive public health agenda forward.” The cigarette proposal follows a recent Bloomberg push to force stores to keep tobacco products out of sight, behind the counter or in a drawer. The city banned smoking in bars and restaurants 10 years ago and has also banned it in parks and beaches.
“Officials cite data that 80% of smokers in the city started before age 21 – and a study that found raising the legal age to 21 could cut smoking rates among 18-to-20-year-olds by more than half. Smoking among younger teens could fall even more, since most kids get their slightly older friends to buy cigarettes for them, they say.”