NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City’s anti-smoking rules are about to get a whole lot tougher. A new bill would raise the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21. Businesses that sell tobacco products to kids could lose their licenses.
On Monday it was personal. Queens Councilman James Genarro (D-24th) teared up as he joined Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley to sponsor a bill to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in New York City, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“We lost her to lung cancer,” Gennaro said. “This disease took my mother because she started smoking when she was 18 and it has taken many other people’s mothers.
“We really, really have to do this.”
“Why are we doing this? Well, let’s look at the data: 80 percent of adult smokers in New York City started before age 21,” Quinn added.
The council bill would go after the sellers of cigarettes and tobacco products. If they violate the sale-to-minors law they are expected to be fined:
* Up to $1,000 for each violation found in a single day.
* Up to $2,000 for the second violation.
* And they could also lose their license to sell tobacco products, period.
The speaker was asked if she would also seek to go after the underage smokers, themselves.
“I think that would be a bridge too far on this issue,” Quinn said.
Young smokers had the following to say:
“I think that’s actually kind of ridiculous. Whether to smoke or not should be your own decision. I think 18 is a good age, but 21 is too high,” said William De Vries of Larchmont.
“I feel if people are restricted to do something they’re probably going to want to do it more, like rebel,” added Thomas Napolitano of Bensonhurst.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea,” added Christian Vargas of Woodside, Queens.
The City Council will hold hearings on the bill sometime next month and members said they’re pretty certain that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will sign it as soon as it gets to his desk.
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