In what may be one of the toughest public policy crackdowns on smoking ever enacted by a city, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to sign into law an act that will increase the city’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill covers cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes. According to a New York City Council member, “This is literally legislation that will save lives.” The bill also establishes a minimum price for cigarettes at $10.50 per pack.
This isn’t the first time that Mr. Bloomberg has attempted to increase the health of his constituents through legislation. A long time advocate for improved healthy lifestyles, Bloomberg has championed issues like banning smoking from restaurants, parks and even beaches, to reducing the size of sugary drinks to a maximum of 16 ounces.
On the surface, a law that aims to improve the health of young adults appears to be a good thing. Although I love e-smoking, it is kind of a “lesser evil” thing — like many of the people reading this article, I imagine, I’d prefer to have not started smoking in the first place. However, laws such as these are also an attempt to force people to make healthier decisions by stripping them of their freedoms — a fact that many have noticed. According to the New York Times, some people have observed that if a young adult can vote, own property, pay taxes and fight in wars, perhaps he deserves to decide for himself whether or not to smoke.
Whether you agree with New York’s new smoking ban or not, I think we can all agree on one thing: New York City has to be the worst place in the country to be a smoker.