Latest Attack On Freedom: NY Raising The Age To Buy Cigarettes To 21

By: Kristin Tate
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On Wednesday, New York City lawmakers adopted the strictest limits on tobacco purchases in any US city.

The change would make 21 the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco items (the current minimum age is 18). The New York City Council also voted to set a $10.50 minimum price for a pack of cigarettes.

The Council passed these new rules in the name of “keeping us healthy.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “This legislation will reduce smoking rates among New Yorkers – especially young New Yorkers — sparing them years of nicotine addiction and health problems.”

City Councilman James Gennaro, the bill’s sponsor, said, “This will literally save many, many lives.”

The new rules compliment recent efforts by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been trying to raise tobacco taxes and make all restaurants and bars smoke-free.

Following the Council’s vote, Bloomberg said, “By increasing the smoking age to 21 we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking. It’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start.”


As noble as the Council’s rules sound, there could be some down sides.

ABC News points out that “cigarette manufacturers have suggested young adult smokers may just turn to black-market merchants. And some smokers say it’s unfair and patronizing to tell people considered mature enough to vote and serve in the military that they’re not old enough to decide whether to smoke.”

Even if the new rule did make some people “healthier,” when did it become the government’s job to control what adults do to their own bodies? Has America become a complete nanny state? Of course, increased smoking regulation is tied to the advent of public health care. When Washington provides and pays for your health care, it will then try to control what you eat and smoke. Government continues growing.

America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. If people want to make poor choices, they should be allowed to. Of course, it is unfair to make the rest of us pay for their lung cancer. This is why ObamaCare (the biggest government power-grab in a generation) must be overturned immediately. In a free country, government cannot dictate lifestyle choices, nor can it become the overprotective Mommy and Daddy of its citizens. Freedom means having the right to make bad choices and then deal with the consequences ourselves.

Still, politicians will likely keep regulating. Quinn said, “We have to do more and that’s what we’re doing today.”

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Kristin Tate is a multi-media reporter for Breitbart News and BenSwann.com. Dedicated to fearless journalism, she regularly works on undercover stings with James O'Keefe to reveal government waste, abuse, and fraud. Tate was a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) Chapter President and Founder. She will continue to fight tirelessly for individual liberty and free markets through new media. Visit Kristin's website at www.TheLibertarianChick.com.

  • insidiom

    I don’t see anything wrong with local governments acting to save the lives of their citizens. However, doesn’t this measure seem like overkill since a pack of stogies costs 10.50?? Also, has anyone seen whether smokers’ gov’t health insurance costs are effected by tobacco use? At my job, a smoker’s insurance costs are slightly higher.

    • Artie P

      What kind of stogies are you smoking? A decent cigar will cost you about $5 to $13 apiece! Some go as high as $30 a stick. Is $10.50 what they are charging for a five pack of machine made, tobacco scrap, crap cigars these days (El Producto, Phillies, Dutch Masters, ect)?

  • Apple

    Some artificial ingredients like Aspartame are as unhealthy to young people as smoking, yet children of all ages are allowed to drink diet soda with aspartame and enjoy chewing gum with aspartame. Aspartame failed the FDA approval process twice for safety prior to the final approval by FDA in 1981 of which 1/2 the FDA panel at that time did not approve Aspartame, but a tie breaker by the FDA head allowed aspartame to poison our people for the last 30+ years. Smoking is just an acceptable political football that is acceptable to put into play, they’ll never touch the real health issue like ASPARTAME.

    • https://twitter.com/JordanDJohnson Jordan

      I can attest to the harm in aspartame. I remember getting migraines from that stuff as a kid and wondering what it was that was giving me such a reaction — sugarless gum. Good observation, Apple. Don’t forget about fluoride in municipal water supplies too ;)

    • sharonhansen209

      Don’t tell the government that it’s bad for you. Just one more thing to regulate. We need labeling on everything. People should be in control of their own bodies, however foolish they are. I think if they are going to do this, a person should not be able to join the military until they are 21 years old. They don’t want our young people killing themselves with smoking but the government doesn’t mind them being killed in unnecessary wars.

    • Tom223

      Aspartame doesn’t need to be regulated but the manufacturer should not be allowed to lie or withhold information about the product. From what I’ve read (my opinion) it appears that one reason Aspartame is harmful is that it breaks down in the body as formaldehyde which is poisonous.

  • Tony Salcido

    Many parts of this article are entirely too misleading and not very well thought out… you can’t really talk about local gov’t enacting laws like this without talking about other laws which are related and currently in place, therefore effectively opening a can of worms…

    For example, I take issue with the last paragraph where you say people should be allowed to make poor choices, and then somehow relate the passing of this law to the Affordable Care Act. Really?? That’s sloppy journalism, and doesn’t adhere well to the “truth in media” concept of this site.

    What about local gov’t setting drinking age? Forcing you to wear a seatbelt? What about the continuously growing, never ending list of drugs deemed illegal at a federal level?

    The truth is, the local AND federal government have been passing laws for quite sometime to “keep us safe” from ourselves. And the REAL truth is, Mayor Bloomberg is more advantageous than other major city mayors when it comes to passing these laws. (Was the ban on soda in NYC related to the ACA, too? Or was that conveniently forgotten?) This article is completely missing the big picture for trying to tie the two together.

    There’s an elephant in the room… and you could have chose to report about it, but you took the easy way out.

  • Drew R

    I’m beginning to think NY stands for “Nanny You!”.. They can draft an 18 year old and send him off to war, but he can’t buy a pack of smokes til 3 years beyond official adulthood? And do these nanny bureaucrats really think that changing the law is going to have any effect? If anything, it’s going to amplify the cool factor and be counter-productive. Seriously.. In Spain, teens are allowed to drink alcohol, and they don’t go through these out of control binges like American kids do, because it’s tolerated, banal, and just not that cool.

    Additionally, there are hundreds of chemicals added to many brands of cigarettes; could it be that it’s these artificial compounds that do more harm than the tobacco alone? Additive free tobacco (such as American Spirits) perhaps really does mean a safer cigarette..

  • https://twitter.com/JordanDJohnson Jordan

    Alright, I agree with the author’s stance 100% but uh can we please keep the opinions to a minimum? Just tell me the facts and I can form my own opinion. Don’t let this turn into WND lol

  • FreedomLover

    The flaw in your thought process is that you have a poorly defined definition of freedom. Where is my freedom, when someone else is smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk and I now am exposed to second hand smoke. The truth is there is no easy answer, which is why we need to make decisions- we make those decisions by electing representatives in a democratic fashion. Our democratically elected representatives voted to raise the smoking age. That vote, by definition is an exercise of freedom. If you don’t get that- I don’t think you understand the definition of freedom at all.

    • Mark Knox

      I’d say you’re free to walk around them. You do have merit to your argument, in that I don’t believe anyone has the freedom to pollute their neighbors’ air, but it also doesn’t really respond to the issue at hand, which is increasing the smoking age from 18 to 21. Who is to say that smokers in the range of 18 – 20 will smoke on the sidewalk, and not in the privacy of their own home? At that point, legislation is being made based on assumption. I think we both know, though, that making something illegal does not mean that less people will do it. Sure, you make it a little less convenient for these young adults to purchase cigarettes from their local convenience store, but it certainly doesn’t stop them from getting what they want in another fashion. So, now you not only put 18- to 20-year-olds at risk of fines and jail time, but also anyone above the age of 21 that purchases those cigarettes for the younger adults. If you recall, during a Republican primary debate, Ron Paul was asked about legalizing drugs. He asked the entire audience “if heroin became legal, who here would start using heroin?” You could hear crickets in the place. The same people are going to ‘use’ cigarettes or heroin, regardless of it being legal or not. Making these habits illegal only brings in revenue for the state, and/or puts people needlessly behind bars.

    • Drew R

      2nd hand smoke outdoors is non existent unless you’re breathing like 2 inches from a smoker’s face.. You’re just catching a benign aroma if you smell it outside. it’s only second hand if you’re in a smokey old pool room takin it in like ol’ Waylon and cowboys appreciate. if you don’t like somebody smokin outside then don’t be all up on their grill while they’re smokin.

      I think your logic is flawed if you call tyranny freedom. just coz someone’s elected doesn’t mean they’re acting in everyone’s best interest. kind of a naive way of thinking if you ask me. it’s the prohibition that creates the crime and all the trouble. Now it’s also just gonna be cooler for kids in NY to smoke, the forbidden fruit.. How ridiculous that adults can’t be treated like adults.

    • Tom223

      You have changed the subject. The point of freedom has to do with age not second hand smoke. Personally I don’t like smelling smoke in door or outside. It stinks and contaminates one’s clothes so you can enjoy the stink hours later. Just wait until they legalize pot. That s…. really stinks. That said it has nothing to do with what the city legislated into being.

    • Artie P

      “Where is my freedom, when someone else is smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk and I now am exposed to second hand smoke.”

      You have got to be kidding me! Oh no, out here, in the open air, I passed by a dreadful SMOKER, and now I am going to get cancer from second hand smoke!! Give me a freakin’ break!! Open air, one cigarette (I don’t care if it was 100 cigarettes), the smoke disappears into the environment, it does not make a beeline for your nose! That is the problem with you anti-everything zealots…everything is overstated and overplayed. You say that there is “no easy answer”, but there is. That answer is to use good old fashioned logic. Cigarette smoke, outdoors is not going to cause you any physical harm. Get a grip!!! Did you ever think about how much exhaust that your are inhaling, from cars and trucks, as you walk down that same street? You want to talk about polluted air, start there. But let’s go with the real idea here; you don’t like being exposed to the smell of cigarette smoke (obviously one cigarette, in open air, is not going to affect you) as you go about your daily walk. Well, I don’t like being assaulted by some of the strong perfume that some of you ladies wear. Should I have to put up with this assault on my senses? Short answer…..YES! If everyone outlaws everything that they don’t like, nobody will be able to do anything, including you!!

  • Mark Knox

    While I don’t agree with NY increasing the minimum age to 21, at least it’s a state law and not federal. People of NY have the option to leave the state, which would make a statement to politicians everywhere that “we won’t put up with you trying to govern every facet of our life.” I personally see this as an extension to the failing ‘War on Drugs’ by which, the state of NY will now have a whole new reason to put 18- to 20-year-olds behind bars.

    • Kenneth

      Correction, it’s a city law. This only effects residents of NYC. The other half of the state doesn’t care what Mayor Bloomberg says.

  • Name

    I find it interesting that an individual considered mature enough to die for his country and select his own leaders isn’t considered smart enough to choose whether or not to smoke a few.

    • Tom223

      You are absolutely right. An 18 year old is allowed to be a bullet catcher in a foreign country and be maimed or killed but he can’t drink alcohol or purchase cigarettes. Just to keep a proper balance, any 18 year old serving in the military should have the option of shooting at the politicians who send him/her to war but wont let him drink or smoke. I’m not advocating shooting anyone as I don’t believe war is an answer to the problems of man – including politics but as a logical progression it makes. The drinking and smoking restriction on service men and women is obscene.

  • Dr. Bill O’Wrightz

    Leave New York. Let each city compete for citizens. That’s the proper level of government to be doing legislation like this, not the federal level (remember the 10th)

  • Tom223

    The only thing it will do is make adjacent city cigarette sales go up. It will also provide enterprising people to illegally import and resale cigarettes in New York. It will also potentially increase the income of terrorists. If anyone remembers, one of the ways these terrorist cells were making money was to import cases of cigarettes into areas that have high taxes / restrictions. They made sufficient profit without too much potential penalty for getting caught compared to other illegal activity. These politicians are basically idiots and besides, it’s not their business. Who made them mommy to the masses? It is this whole viewpoint that is the problem with modern day America. The idea that it is up to government to tell people what to think and how to act. People need to learn to think and act for themselves not be a bunch of idiots who are never responsible for their own lives and decisions.

  • Johnney Appleseed

    The idiots in NY would do well to read some history. Specifically the history surrounding prohibition and the net result. Never ceases to amaze me how these people never learn. I guess its a bad reflection on the public education system here in the US.

  • Artie P

    If a person is old enough to be sent into a warzone, with guns, at the age of 18, then he is old enough to smoke and drink. It doesn’t get any heavier than being sent off to war. I suppose that our “elected officials” believe that these kiddies can handle that, but smoking and drinking? Nah, they, in the words of the government, are too young and immature to make that decision! Anyone else seeing the hypocrisy here? And now vets, who put their lives on the line by fighting in these wars of conquest (they certainly weren’t fought because of any threat to America) come home, get diagnosed with PTSD (which anyone in a warzone is going to get, to some degree) and have their 2nd amendment rights stripped away. As a matter of fact, the vets who do attempt to get treatment for PTSD are being turned away by the VA and told that it was a pre-existing condition, before they ever got shipped to said warzones.

    There is a lot of corruption and a ton of things to fix in this country. I say, the first thing that we need to do is fire Washington, D.C. and cut out their handlers (the cabal) so that real representatives (people like you and me) can work for We the People, without a huge salary and any perks, and no motivation other than the fact that they want to serve the American people.

    • Tom223

      Good comments Artie. Firing Washington is a good idea. State nullification is probably the greatest opportunity to move in this direction – along with any grass roots activities that call for freedom and apply pressure to their own representatives. People forget that one must continually fight to maintain freedom. There are always bankers who will use puppets like Obama, and the leadership of both the Dems and Repubs.
      I think we should pass a law that a politician can never purchase smokes or alcohol unless they have served in the military. It is just as logical as the law passed in New York City.

  • Dexter97

    It is not the smoking that needs to be stopped. It is the tobacco company’s adding 600+ toxins to the mix of tobacco that needs to be stopped. I mean seriously it is not like when people smoke, that they smoke fully natural 100% toxin free tobacco. There are a ton of toxins added in order to keep people addicted and it is THAT which makes people have a whole range of respiratory problems. That is what needs to be stopped.

  • http://antibrains.com Michael J. McFadden

    Note the cute game here: ” ABC News points out that “cigarette manufacturers have suggested young adult smokers may just turn to black-market merchants.”

    Of course if “cigarette manufacturers” said this, it’s obviously not valid, right? However anyone with even half brain cell will realize that OF COURSE once you make it hard for 18/19/20 year olds to buy cigarettes at the store, they will be more likely to look for the guy in the alley selling the black market cigarettes. AND, what the Bloomy folks don’t want to mention, is that this will then create a LARGER black market and thereby not only funnel more money to organized crime but also make cigarettes more easily available to *real* children: the 12 and 13 year olds who normally wouldn’t have a chance in Hades of buying cigs at a regular store.

    The guy in the alley certainly isn’t worrying about checking ID cards from his customers.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “TobakkoNacht — The Antismoking Endgame”ann_ on Twitter

  • http://antibrains.com Michael J. McFadden

    It will be interesting to do an analysis a year or so from now to see just how many “kids” will have lost their lives in traffic accidents driving out of the city to purchase cartons of cigarettes. And those will be REAL bodies, with REAL blood… flowing on the streets now. Not simulated fantastical hypothesized computer projections of results 30 or 40 years from now that are based on the premise that all medical research and development is halted completely throughout those years.

    - MJM