Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em: NYC Becomes First City/State to Raise Smoking Age to 21

Up in smoke. (Getty Images)
Up in smoke. (Getty Images)

As someone in the office just put it: “You can die for your country, but you can’t smoke a cigarette.” That line, usually just applicable to drinking throughout the United States, will soon apply to anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 trying to buy tobacco products in New York City.  Today, Mayor Bloomberg signed a new law (passed by City Council earlier this year) that means in 180 days it will no longer be legal for high school seniors to use time-honored traditions to look cool at parties where there are college kids.

This is the first time in America’s history where a city or a state has raised the age to prohibit young adults from purchasing tobacco products.

Of course, it’s all for “our own good.”

“This is literally legislation that will save lives,” Christine C. Quinn said back in October right before the bill passed 35 to 10.

Mayor Bloomberg also set a companion law making the minimum price for a pack of cigarettes $10.50. Although Jesus, when was the last time you saw a pack of your favorite brand sold in the city for ONLY ten bucks? Also, no more 2-for-1 specials, so sorry, Newport fans.

“This century, a billion people will die from smoking around the world and we don’t want any of the people who die to be New Yorkers,” Bloomberg said. “That’s the one thing we can do.”

And don’t expect new mayor Bill de Blasio to be any more sympathetic to your nicotine junkie needs. According to

  •  Obesity and smoking remain two of New York City’s biggest killers—which is why de Blasio has been a strong supporter of reforms like banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and the policy’s expansion to parks and public spaces. De Blasio has also backed mandates to post calorie counts to inform consumers and ban harmful trans-fats. These policies have not always been popular, but they have collectively saved thousands of lives.

This is going to remain tricky territory for the e-cig crowd, who have already been fighting legislation that lumps “vaping” products in with those that use tobacco.

While the new bill doesn’t single out e-cigs,  a proposed update to a New York City Department of Health Ordinance would update the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigs and accessories.

Pretty soon New York City will just force us to keep our New Year’s resolutions, whether we want to or not. We’re just waiting for that gluten ban and the mandatory calisthenics class required for all city residents…maybe THEN we’ll finally be healthy. Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em: NYC Becomes First City/State to Raise Smoking Age to 21