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New York proposes age restriction on smoking

Law aims to prevent young people from developing deadly habit

New York is at it again. This time, instead of trying to limit the size of sugary beverages you can buy, it’s cracking down on young smokers.

The City Council, with the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, unveiled a plan that would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or smoke cigarettes. The Council said that the whole idea is in the interest of stopping young people from developing a habit, which leads to the No. 1 cause of preventable death.

"The point here is to really address where smoking begins," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told reporters yesterday.  

But retailers believe the proposed measure will do nothing to limit young people from smoking, claiming they will simply travel to neighboring cities to purchase cigarettes. A smokers’ rights advocate told the Associated Press that the move is "government paternalism at its worst."

The current federal law mandates that no one under 18 can buy or smoke cigarettes. Some communities have raised the age to 19, and two have raised it to 21. A Chicago alderman also jumped on the bandwagon, saying the idea is “something worth exploring.” Texas had been considering a similar law, but the measure was placed on hold when the state’s budget board estimated Texas would lose out on $42 million in cigarette tax revenue over the course of two years.

Read AP’s detailed story about this proposal.

For more InsideCounsel stories related to the tobacco industry, see:

Supreme Court may hear free speech challenge to FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco

Michael Bloomberg seeks to ban cigarette displays

Tobacco companies and states reach agreement over payments

Judge tells Big Tobacco to disclose deception on packaging

D.C. Circuit rules against graphic tobacco label requirements

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Cathleen Flahardy

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