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Philip Morris

How old should you be to purchase cigarettes?

With separate proposals to raise the tobacco purchase age in New York State and New York city introduced, Buffalo's Early News and WBEN.com looked at the issue Tuesday .

If passed, New York would become the first state to raise the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21. Four states and some communities have increased the age to 19, and at least two towns have agreed to raise it to 21. 

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.

On the WBEN Liveline.
The following interview will be placed online here after being heard on-air 
8:20 - Andrew Hyland, Chair of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Inst.

Does the measure have any hope of passage?

A local assemblyman says he would not object to a bill raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21, but would need to take a closer look at the bill.

"Generally, I would support a bill that promotes health," says Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak. "

You would hope this would reduce cigarette use, but there are those who would go to the reservation to buy cigarettes."

Gabryszak notes there's a possible economic side effect. "We could see less sales tax revenue as a result," observes Gabryszak, who says that could be countered by less cigarette-related health care costs.

State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal announced the legislation at a news conference Sunday in New York City. The bill was introduced on Friday.

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

. New York   City would be the nation's largest community to raise the purchase age to 21 and and if it is s approved statewide New York would be the only state in the nation to raise the legal age that high. 

Convenience Store owners, already hit hard by the sale of cigarettes tax free on Indian reservations, argue that raising the state's tobacco purchase age would only make a bad situation worse.

A new proposal would increase the threshold from 18, a federal minimum that is the standard in many places.

A spokesman for the NYS Association of Convenience Stores suggested the measure would simply drive younger smokers to neighboring communities or even reservation-based sellers.

"Not only would you be able to continue to buy cigarettes on Indian reservations,k but you would be able to buy them from people on the street, from people with vans that smuggle them in from other states.," says James Calvin, the association's executive director.

"The black market is flourishing and that's because New York State has made it so lucrative, for criminals to obtain cigarettes elsewhere and sell them in New York State," Calvin says

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Do you think the minimum age for the sale of cigarettes should be raised from 18 to 21?
( 34% )
( 66% )


How Young Do People Start Smoking? 

The use rate among teenagers, very young people are very low, but where you do see the highest rates are as they age, in that young adult group, and I think a lot of it involves the tobacco company marketing, where they have shifted from that group and now are targeting a little older, " says Andrew Hyland, the chair of behavioral health at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

" Ratcheting it up to a few years try and  keep it out of the hands of younger people and let them make a free choice to use those products when they are at an older age, makes a lot of sense from a public health standpoint.

 If you are looking at cigarette smoking, 440,00 people a year die, right here in New York 25,000 people die each year.  It is just a deadly addictive product and efforts to reduce its use should be commensurate with the amount of danger it poses. "

-- Andrew Hyland, Chair of Behavioral Health, Roswell Park Cancer Inst.

from the US Centers for Disease Control

Nearly a quarter of high school students in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Another 8% use smokeless tobacco. Smoking has many health risks for everyone. However, the younger you are when you start smoking, the more problems it can cause. For example:
  • People who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting.
  • About 30% of youth smokers will continue smoking and die early from a smoking-related disease.
  • Teen smokers are more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • They are more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety disorders and depression.

Parents and other adults who work with children can help by warning them of the risks of smoking. They can also set a good example by not smoking themselves.

04/30/2013 5:29AM
How old should you be to purchase cigarettes?
Please enter your comments below.
04/30/2013 6:54AM
Different story when the state takes away something you care about
NY is evolving into a state where “special” interest groups know what’s best for people. Criminalize the gun owners to ”save” the children, but then legalize full term abortion. Silence the church, keep your silly rituals inside out of the public’s eye, but then force the taxpayer to go against their beliefs. Limit the size of those sugary drinks, point fingers at the clown for childhood obesity by placing toys in the kids meal. If you didn’t see this coming early, it is surly too late. I’m going to fall into the individual/minimalist on this one, Count me out.
04/30/2013 8:02AM
Let's hear the pro-tobacco voice.
Like the gun industry that enjoys so much right wing support, the tobacco industry is another lying empire of death mongering. Let's hear from their obedient toadies.
04/30/2013 4:33PM
Looks like the tobacco industry alerted their minions to vote
The only "special" interest group here is the tobacco industry and its addicts pushing their lethal drug on our youth. Tobacco is ILLEGAL for minors, yet most smokers started as minors - that makes the tobacco companies drug dealers to children. It is a pediatric epidemic when a third start before age 12. Apparently it is against one poster's beliefs to protect children from drug dealers (it is not a legal drug when it comes to youth.) The rest of us taxpayers do want to save our kids from a life time of addiction and disease.
04/30/2013 10:36PM
18 is fine.
If they are okd enough to serve in the Military at 18, they should be allowed to buy cigarettes at 18, not 21!
05/01/2013 9:31AM
They Can Go To War, But...
they can't smoke a cigarette or order a drink. How ridiculous is that? They can give their lives for our country, but they can't enjoy simple freedoms. I certainly don't want to see anyone smoke, but why don't we just keep themin diapers until they're 50, too?
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