Speaker Quinn and Council Members Propose Strong Action To Further Reduce Smoking in New York City
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
RELEASE: April 22, 2013
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
supporters, the cost to government is far outstripped by smoking's toll on
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
smoker Audrey Silk, people considered old enough to vote and serve in the
military should be allowed to decide whether to use cigarettes.
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.
for the measure say the parallel isn't voting but drinking. They cite laws
against selling alcohol to anyone under 21.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
council hearing on those and the age limit proposal is set for May 2.
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.
a leading Democratic candidate to succeed Bloomberg next year, has often been
perceived as an ally of his.
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.
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