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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

Speaker Quinn and Council Members Propose Strong Action To Further Reduce Smoking in New York City

Tuesday, April 23, 2013  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 22, 2013

CONTACT: Ashley Trentrock, 202-296-5469

Speaker Quinn and Council Members Propose Strong Action To Further Reduce Smoking in New York City

Statement of Susan M. Liss

Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC – New York City has led the nation and the world in fighting tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council members today have taken an important step to build on this progress by proposing legislation that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

Nearly all smokers start as kids or young adults, so curtailing smoking among these age groups is critical to winning the fight against tobacco and reducing the deaths, disease and health care costs it causes. This proposal will help achieve these goals and make New York City the first major city or state in the nation to have a minimum tobacco purchase age of 21. It will also help protect young people who have been heavily targeted by the tobacco industry. The U.S. Surgeon General has found that nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99 percent started by age 26. Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by young adulthood.

This proposal builds on the unprecedented progress New York City has made in reducing smoking with a comprehensive strategy that includes high tobacco taxes, a smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces and public places, and frequent, hard-hitting media campaigns. As a result, New York has reduced smoking far faster and to far lower levels than the nation as a whole. But 14.8 percent of New York adults and 8.5 percent of the city’s high school students still smoke. The tobacco industry never lets up in pushing its deadly products. New York City’s leaders rightly recognize that they can’t let up in their efforts to reduce smoking and save lives.

New York City aims to ban cigarette sales under 21s

By Edith Honan

22 April 2013

Reuters Health E-Line

© 2013 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

http://news.yahoo.com/york-city-aims-ban-cigarette-sales-under-age-142530178--sector.html

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City took the first step on Monday in outlawing sales of cigarettes to anyone under age 21, in an effort to reduce smoking among the age group in which most smokers take up the habit.

The bill, which was introduced by the City Council and has the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would make New York City, which already has the highest cigarette taxes in the nation, the first big city or state to set the smoking age at 21. Currently, individuals must be 18 to buy cigarettes.

Eight in 10 adult smokers in the city started smoking regularly when they were below the age of 21, and most smokers who are under age 18 obtain cigarettes from individuals who are just a few years older than them, city officials said.

While an increase in cigarette taxes contributed to a 15-point drop among youth smokers from 1999 to 2007, the number of high-school-aged smokers has held steady at about 8.5 percent over the last six years.

Cigarette packs sold in New York City currently carry a state tax of $4.35 and a city tax of $1.50 - making it the most expensive city in the nation to be a smoker.

"Too many adult smokers begin this deadly habit before age 21," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. "By delaying our city's children and young adults access to lethal tobacco products, we're decreasing the likelihood they ever start smoking, and thus, creating a healthier city."

The bill marks the latest effort in the city's decade-long fight to discourage smoking, which the city's health commissioner, Thomas Farley, said was the most significant cause of preventable death in the city. In 2003, Bloomberg outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants, and smoking has since been banned in other public places, including parks.

Quinn, who is running to become the city's next mayor, made clear that she would continue Bloomberg's aggressive public health agenda - which has led his detractors to dub him the "nanny mayor."

MOST TOBACCO USE STARTS IN ADOLESCENCE

While most of the city's anti-smoking initiatives have originated with Bloomberg, the mayor did not join Quinn in making the announcement on Monday, instead sending Farley to say that the mayor looks forward to signing the bill into law.

Every U.S. state prohibits retailers from selling tobacco products to minors and in most states the smoking age is set at 18. Four states - Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah - require that a cigarette purchaser be at least 19 years old.

In New York, Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island have already boosted their legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products to 19.

Nearly all tobacco use starts in childhood and adolescence, according to the 2012 report by the U.S. Surgeon General, which declared smoking a "pediatric epidemic" both in the United States and globally.

According to the report, 99 percent of all first use of tobacco occurs by age 26. The report also found that if youth and young adults manage to avoid smoking or other tobacco products, very few will begin smoking after that age.

Evidence suggests that once youth start smoking, many find it hard to quit. Of all adult cigarette smokers in the United States who smoke daily, 88 percent started smoking by age 18, according to the report.

Currently, about one out of four seniors in high school - youth aged 17 or 18 - smoke on a regular basis. Among those who continue smoking, half will die 13 years earlier than non-smoking peers.

It was not immediately clear how the tobacco industry would respond to the proposed legislation, which Quinn said she hoped would become a model for the rest of the country.

"Our companies follow the law whatever it is in any jurisdiction," said Jane Seccombe, spokeswoman for Reynolds American Inc, the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, American Snuff Co and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. "We believe no minors, however they're classified in those jurisdictions, should be able to access tobacco products."

She declined to comment on any potential sales impact from changes in the minimum age.

NYC proposes raising minimum age for cigarette purchases from 18 to 21

By Jennifer Peltz

22 April 2013

Associated Press Newswires

(c) 2013. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/nyc-proposes-raising-minimum-age-for-cigarette-purchases-from-18-to-21/2013/04/22/d0d14456-ab60-11e2-9493-2ff3bf26c4b4_story.html

NEW YORK (AP) - No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes in New York City under a proposal unveiled Monday to make the city the most populous place in America to set the minimum age that high.

Extending a decade of moves to crack down on smoking in the nation's largest city, the idea aims to stop young people from developing a habit that remains the leading preventable cause of death here and nationwide, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said as she announced the plan. Eighty percent of the city's smokers started lighting up before they were 21, officials say.

"The point here is to really address where smoking begins," she said, flanked by colleagues and the city's health commissioner, an array that signals the proposal has the political ingredients to pass, with support in the council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's backing.

But it may face questions about its effectiveness and fairness. A retailers' representative suggested the measure would simply drive younger smokers to neighboring communities or corner-store cigarette sellers instead of city stores, while a smokers' rights advocate called it "government paternalism at its worst."

Under federal law, no one under 18 can buy tobacco anywhere in the country. Some states and localities have raised the age to 19, and at least two communities have agreed to raise it to 21.

New York would be the biggest city to do so. A similar proposal has been floated in the Texas Legislature, but it's on hold after a budget board estimated it would cost the state more than $42 million in cigarette tax revenue over two years.

To supporters, the cost to government is far outstripped by smoking's toll on human lives.

Public health and anti-smoking advocates say a higher minimum age for buying tobacco discourages, or at least delays, young people from starting smoking and thereby limits their health risks.

"Curtailing smoking among these age groups is critical to winning the fight against tobacco and reducing the deaths, disease and health care costs it causes," said Susan M. Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

While tobacco use has become less prevalent in New York City over the last decade, the smoking rate has plateaued at 8.5 percent among the city's public high school students since 2007. An estimated 20,000 of them smoke today.

It's already against the law for many of them to buy cigarettes. But raising the minimum age would further reduce their access to cigarettes by making it illegal to turn to slightly older friends to buy smokes for them, officials say.

"We know that enforcement is never going to be perfect," but this measure should make it "much harder" for teens to get cigarettes, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

City officials cited statistical modeling, published in the journal Health Policy, that estimated that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 nationally could cut the smoking rate by two-thirds among 14-to-17-year-olds and by half among 18-to-20-year-olds over 50 years. Texas budget officials projected a one-third reduction in the use of all tobacco products by 18-to-20-year-olds.

A higher minimum tobacco purchase age could cut noticeably into sales that make up 40 percent of gross revenues for the average convenience store, said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience stores. But he suggested younger smokers might just go outside the city -- the minimum age is 19 in nearby Long Island and New Jersey, for instance -- or to black-market merchants.

To smoker Audrey Silk, people considered old enough to vote and serve in the military should be allowed to decide whether to use cigarettes.

"Intolerance for anyone smoking is the anti-smokers' excuse to reduce adults to the status of children," said Silk, who founded a group that has sued the city over previous tobacco restrictions.

Advocates for the measure say the parallel isn't voting but drinking. They cite laws against selling alcohol to anyone under 21.

The nation's largest cigarette maker, Altria Group Inc., had no immediate comment, spokesman David Sutton said. He has previously noted that the Richmond, Va.-based company, which produces the top-selling Marlboro brand, supported federal legislation that in 2009 gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products, which includes various retail restrictions.

Representatives for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. didn't immediately respond to phone and email inquiries. Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., it makes Camel and other brands.

The age limit is already 21 in Needham, Mass., and is headed toward 21 in another Boston suburb, Canton. The town Board of Health agreed to the change this month, though a detailed regulation is still in the works, said Public Health Director John L. Ciccotelli.

It's expected to include a provision requiring an annual local study of whether smoking declines among high-school students -- and eliminating the measure in five years if it doesn't, he said.

Since Bloomberg took office in 2002, New York City helped impose the highest cigarette taxes in the country, barred smoking at parks and on beaches and conducted sometimes graphic advertising campaigns about the hazards of smoking.

Last month, the Bloomberg administration unveiled a proposal to keep cigarettes out of sight in stores until an adult customer asks for a pack, as well as stopping shops from taking cigarette coupons and honoring discounts.

A council hearing on those and the age limit proposal is set for May 2.

Several of New York City's smoking regulations have survived court challenges. But a federal appeals court said last year that the city couldn't force tobacco retailers to display gruesome images of diseased lungs and decaying teeth.

Quinn, a leading Democratic candidate to succeed Bloomberg next year, has often been perceived as an ally of his.

Bloomberg also has pushed a number of other pioneering public-health measures, such as compelling chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus, banning artificial trans fats in restaurants and attempting to limit the size of sugary drinks. A court struck down the big-beverage rule last month, but the city is appealing and Bloomberg has urged voluntary compliance in the meantime.

While Bloomberg has led the way on many anti-smoking initiatives, this one arose from the City Council -- particularly Councilman James Gennaro, who lost his mother to lung cancer after she smoked for decades.

- Associated Press writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.


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